Mayor Bloomberg Breaks Ground on New Key Food, First Supermarket in Staten Island to Use FRESH Program, Which Has Created and Retained 1,000 Jobs
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today broke ground on a 9,000-square-foot Key Food supermarket in the South Beach area of Staten Island, the latest in a series of new or expanded supermarkets that have been created as a result of the City’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health program, also known as FRESH, which was launched in 2009 in partnership with the City Council. FRESH was created to increase access to food in underserved communities by incentivizing the establishment and retention of neighborhood supermarkets. Since its launch in 2009, 10 projects have been approved, and four more are in the pipeline. These 14 FRESH supermarkets are expected to provide 400,000 square feet of new or renovated space, and are estimated to retain over 550 jobs and create 450 more, and represent an investment of approximately $50 million across the city. Mayor Bloomberg was joined by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, Council Member James Oddo, Patricia Brodhagen of the Food Industry Alliance, Kingdom Castle Food Corporation President Amy Doleh, Mel Williams of Key Food and Judi Kende, Managing Director of the Low Income Investment Fund.
“This supermarket is going to bring healthier neighborhood eating and a healthier neighborhood economy to Staten Island,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The FRESH program brings down the cost of opening, expanding, and operating grocery stores – something that helps improve access to food and create jobs in all five boroughs.”
“The City Council is proud to be a partner in the FRESH program, providing access to quality food in underserved communities and, for the first time, here in Staten Island,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This program continues to prove successful by providing zoning and financial incentives to grocery store operators and developers who in turn provide nutritious, affordable food to New Yorkers in low-income areas underserved by grocery stores. It's a program that works, and one that we in the Council, will continue to support.”
“Increasing access to fresh food in communities across the five boroughs means healthier lifestyles and more jobs,” Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel said. “This critical incentive program is helping expand economic opportunity in areas where private investment is needed most.”
“The FRESH program has already had a dramatic impact not just here in Staten Island, but throughout the five boroughs, with 14 projects in the works that will inject tens of millions of dollars into the local economy, improve access to healthy and nutritious foods, redevelop vacant buildings, and create hundreds of jobs in neighborhoods that need them most,” said Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “We thank our partners in the Administration, the City Council and elsewhere in City government for helping to make this important initiative a success.”
“Our partnership on the innovative FRESH program is quite literally bearing fruit for communities in need throughout the city, and I am delighted that Staten Island is on the verge of having its first FRESH grocery store,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. “Providing access to healthy, fresh food in underserved neighborhoods is essential to combat diet-related diseases and neighborhood grocery stores add immeasurably to the quality of life in all communities.”
“The Health Department is pleased to work in concert with the Mayor's office, Speaker Quinn, City Planning, the Economic Development Corporation and the New York State Department of Health to support the FRESH initiative,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “The creation and expansion of supermarkets through tax and zoning incentives created by the City helps increase access to healthy fresh foods like fruits and vegetables in our most underserved areas. Today in New York City, obesity and type 2 diabetes are the fastest growing disease epidemics. Increasing access to healthy food, through programs like FRESH, and providing additional physical activity opportunities in everyday life are critical to combating these rising health problems.”
“Each of the agencies supporting the FRESH initiative has helped to make it an important and model program,” said Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler. “This cross cutting approach is one of the reasons that FRESH helps the City to meet multiple goals: making healthy food more available, creating jobs, and improving the walkability and appeal of neighborhoods.”
"The FRESH initiative is an excellent example of the types of environmental changes that we need to make across New York in order to make it easier for residents to eat properly and be physically active,” said State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, M.D., M.P.H. “Given that the lack of a full service grocery store in low income neighborhoods and other 'food deserts' increases the risk of poor eating habits and obesity, the New York State Department of Health is proud to support this important initiative."
“In the spirit of Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to create walkable communities, the opening of Key Food will allow residents of South Beach to shop for fresh produce within walking distance of their homes,” said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. “This is good news for the local economy and a positive step toward improving the quality of life for area residents.”
“We welcome Key Food to our little corner of Staten Island! We look forward to the green vegetables it will sell, the green paid to its employees from the jobs it will create in our community, and, just as important, we will embrace the renewed vitality and spirit it will bring to Sand Lane and South Beach, Staten Island,” said City Council Member James S. Oddo.
“I was excited to learn that a FRESH market will be coming to Port Richmond. It’s important to encourage people to choose nutritional food and maintain a healthy diet. To achieve these goals, it’s vital for consumers to have fresh food available in their communities. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many of our low-income communities. The City’s FRESH program is an excellent initiative to help solve that problem, while at the same time create jobs and strengthen the local economy,” said City Council Member Debi Rose.
“We are so excited to be able to open a store in our own borough,” said Amy Doleh, owner of this Key Food location. “Thanks to the FRESH Program and to Healthy Food and Healthy Communities Fund, who made it possible.”
“Key Food’s New York City neighborhood stores have for over 70 years been committed to providing access to quality food in diverse, low- to moderate-income, and often underserved neighborhood,” said Melvin T. Williams of Key Food. “The over 115 stores in the Key Food Cooperative are primarily located in the five boroughs of New York City, and they are operated by a diverse group of small business owners. The FRESH program and Key Food working together will not only help ensure that underserved neighborhoods are served, but will also enable more small business food store owners to participate in achieving that goal.
“This supermarket will provide more healthy food options to a neighborhood that is much in need of them,” said Alicia Glen, Head of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. “This is another example of how the public and private sectors can work together to support important community projects.”
“The New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities Fund is proud to be providing $3.8 million in financing to bring this new Key Food Market to Staten Island,” said Nancy O. Andrews, President & CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund. “Store owner Amy Doleh is a proven entrepreneur who will transform a vacant building into a high quality, supermarket. This store will make a tremendous positive difference the lives of local residents, particularly benefitting the many low-income families in the neighborhood, by increasing access to healthy, nutritious food and creating new jobs. We are thrilled to partner with Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) Program on this project.”
“FRESH projects, often independently owned and operated, such as the Key Food Store to open on this site, provide healthful food choices and, importantly, they also frequently restore property to productive use, provide jobs, contribute to neighborhood stability and attract additional retail to the neighborhood,” Pat Brodheagan of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State. “Good health is definitely also good business.”
FRESH, developed by the Department of City Planning and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, is the first program in the nation to combine zoning and financial incentives and to offer them in multiple neighborhoods and cities across the country, including Chicago, Newark, Washington D.C. and Birmingham have expressed interest in emulating the FRESH program as part of their food access policy. In the past two years, FRESH has exceeded expectations and is well on its way to its original goal of creating an estimated 15 new grocery stores and upgrade 10 existing stores, creating 1,100 new jobs and retaining 400 others over 10 years.
The new Key Food is owned by Kingdom Castle Food Corporation. Last week Kingdom Castle Food Corporation was approved for $2 million in building, land, sales, and mortgage recording tax relief through the FRESH program by the Industrial Development Agency. The project, which represents total investment of approximately $5.3 million including acquisition of the land, will create new 33 jobs over the next three years. The company has committed to using HireNYC targeted hiring to support local hiring in an area with unemployment rates of more than 1.25 times the State average. The new 9,000 square foot Keyfood supermarket with grade parking at 300 Sand Lane in Staten Island will serve a population that has been recognized by the City, State and Federal Food Access programs as an area underserved by grocery stores. This project will also receive and is the beneficiary of a low interest loan through the NY State Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund.
Another FRESH supermarket is currently planned for the Port Richmond area of Staten Island. The planned 15,000 square foot Met Food supermarket is entering the public approval process early next year. Like the Keyfood store, this project will renovate an existing empty building and create a minimum of 25 jobs. Port Richmond is identified within a high need area for food access as determined by FRESH and has unemployment of more than 1.25 times the State average.
The FRESH initiative was established by the City in 2009, in partnership with the City Council, and in response to a study by the Departments of City Planning and Health and Mental Hygiene which showed that many low-income areas across the city are underserved by neighborhood grocery stores. The resulting lack of nutritious, affordable, fresh food in the underserved neighborhoods has been linked to higher rates of diet-related diseases, including diabetes and obesity. Supermarket owners and operators have found it difficult to finance new projects in New York City because of high land costs. The program incentivizes the creation and retention of supermarkets by providing zoning and financial incentives to eligible grocery store operators and developers.
FRESH incentives are designed to work alongside programs such as New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and other energy efficiency programs; Healthy Food Healthy Communities; the New Business Acceleration Team; and HireNYC.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.