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Queens Chronicle

Key Food stymied by zoning, parking issues

Sources say store may open in spring, but company refuses to comment

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

The proposed Key Food supermarket planned for Cross Bay Boulevard has been delayed due to issues with its parking lot, a gate and questions over the zoning of the site — and some say it may not open at all.

The supermarket was announced last summer and is slated to open at 163-20 Cross Bay Blvd. in the building formerly occupied by Duane Reade, which closed permanently after Hurricane Sandy. The building was badly flooded in the storm.

The store was due to be open already, but several sources say ongoing problems with renovations, questions over zoning, its parking lot and a gate separating the lot from one for Staples, which is next door, have ground progress to a halt.

The site of the proposed Key Food was once an amusement park, and the owners of that park applied for special zoning variances for their entire property, which now includes a number of different businesses.

When the amusement park closed in the early 1990s, new buildings went up, including the one that houses Staples — formerly a laser tag venue — as well as buildings now housing other businesses.

The site of the Key Food was first a diner, then later the Duane Reade.

The sources say the sites have been sold off by the previous owner and the variances cannot, thus, be transferred to a supermarket, which operates under different rules than other stores.

One of those problems, according to one source, is that the city has requested the parking lot between Key Food and Staples be opened up to provide for a second exit onto 164th Avenue, but that has caused issues with the Staples because of concerns that a supermarket would bring more traffic to the lot than Duane Reade did.

Neither the diner nor Duane Reade was forced to open the gate between the lots.

“The supermarket will bring in a lot more cars that would park by Staples,” the source said. “That’s been a problem. If they can’t work it out, they won’t open at all.”

A spokeswoman for Key Food declined to comment on the situation.

A second source close to the situation says the company has told area officials it expects to open in March or April once the parking lot issue is sorted out, which it expects will be done.

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