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The Flushing Key Food that closed in June will soon be replaced and the new grocer will cater to all demographics of the northeast Queens neighborhood, a realtor involved in the process said.
The changing of the guard at other food outlets in the area has not gone smoothly, instead highlighting tensions between different cultures when neighborhoods are in flux.
And the blocks near the store on the border of Flushing and Whitestone have seen their share of demographic shifts. The population of Asian residents — once half of the white population — is now the biggest demographic, according to data from the U.S. census.
But Ken Schuckman, of Schuckman Realty, who was hired by the property owner to find a new tenant, said the new grocer will please everyone.
“I believe we’ve found someone that can service both populations, so neither group will feel alienated,” he said. “Both groups will feel at home shopping.”
Schuckman was not referring to any particular demographic, but rather longtime residents of the neighborhood and the groups of people who have recently moved there.
But census data provides insight into exactly how the neighborhood has changed.
In the area bounded by the Whitestone Expressway, the Cross Island Parkway, 150th Street and roughly the borders of the Mitchell-Linden co-op and condo complex, the population of white residents has declined from about 12,500 in the year 2000 to about 9,200 in 2010 — a drop of nearly 30 percent.
On the other hand, the number of Asian residents has ballooned from 5,848 to 10,352 over the same time period, an increase of almost 80 percent, according to census data.
Hispanic, black and other ethnicities are also present in the neighborhood but in nowhere near the numbers of these two largest categories.
Last summer, negotiations for a new lease between the property owners, Lana Terrace Inc., and the longtime operators of the Key Food, Dan’s Supreme Super Markets Inc., broke down, according to both parties.
The grocer closed its doors in June, but technically the lease on the property is not up until the end of December. Dan’s Supreme is currently gutting much of the store to make way for the new tenant, which Schuckman said was painstakingly selected and is expected to ink a contract this week.
On behalf of the shopping center owners, he undertook his own survey of who was living near the store in order to serve them adequately, the realtor said.
“The people who own the shopping center are family people,” he said. “And their primary purpose with the shopping center, like their parents before them, is to serve the community.”
But basing business decisions on demographics has not won fans in Flushing in the past.
In fall 2010, another Key Food in downtown Flushing — composed of about 70 percent Asian residents, according to the census — was closed and replaced with New York Mart, a store that did not predominately cater to the former Key Foods’ clientele, which prompted protests from longtime white residents of the neighborhood who were concerned about the types of food offered at the store and a lack of English signage.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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