Foodtown expanding into Loft site

A plan to expand the Foodtown at 91st Street and Third Avenuerequires the tearing down of the 101-year-old building next door,formerly The Loft restaurant and bar – a process that is currentlyunderway – and while some Ridgeites welcome the expandedsupermarket at any cost, others argue that the project is not worthtearing down a long-standing piece of Bay Ridge history.

Noah Katz, a co-owner of Foodtown, along with his brother Danieland his father Sydney, said that the expansion, set to be completedby January 2012, will involve a state-of-the-art remodel of thestore, as well as an improvement in its offerings.

The newly expanded store will include a larger fruit andvegetable department, a new fresh bakery department, an expandeddeli department, a new fresh seafood department, an expanded meatdepartment, an expanded grocery, dairy and frozen food department,a coffee bar, more check-out lanes, and much more, Katz said.

The Katz family announced its purchase of The Loft, once ShortRibs, in 2008. They submitted their expansion proposal request thatsame year, amid rumors of a Bay Ridge Key Food closure, but claimedat the time that the city was moving very slowly to approve theplans. With the plans now underway, Foodtown is expected to occupythe entire block, making it Bay Ridge’s largest supermarket.

The space that The Loft previously occupied will become part ofthe parking lot, which will offer the same amount of spaces it doesnow, according to Katz.

Some local leaders support the expansion, pointing out that thearea, which has lost other supermarkets in previous years,including the Third Avenue Key Food that closed in 2008, is in needof all-inclusive, more spacious supermarkets to serve residents’needs.

Foodtown has done their best to accommodate and serve theinflux of shoppers since Key Food closed, but this expansion hasbeen greatly anticipated and is long overdue, said CouncilmemberVincent Gentile. The new and improved Foodtown will have more tooffer than either the prior Foodtown or Key Food did.

The expansion of Foodtown is something that has been talkedabout for a couple of years, and it is something that is needed,said John Quaglione, spokesperson for State Senator Marty Golden.Expanding the store will allow more shopping opportunities forpeople who like to use it but find that it’s too small of a placeor too crowded.

Although The Loft was once considered for landmark status,according to Quaglione, the building has been vacant for years.However, he believes that the Loft building is something thatresidents will noticeably miss when they walk down Third Avenuebecause it has been a structure for so long.

Not Foodtown shopper Fay Fujii.

They better expand; it’s so congested here, it’s ridiculous,Fujii said. [I am not concerned about The Loft demolition] becauseit’s in the wrong place and it’s been a derelict building for manyyears.

But Victoria Hofmo, the president of the Bay Ridge Conservancy,disagrees.

They could have [used The Loft building] for a bakery, deli orbutcher, Hofmo said. Do I think it is best for the community? No,I think it’s best for [Foodtown].

Katz said he has not received any such complaints.

I am unaware of anyone expressing the concern that you justmentioned, Katz said.

We do extensive surveys of our customers, and our customershave expressed and been supportive of the demolition andexpansion.

Ridgeite Ann Minichino supports the Foodtown expansion under onecondition: Sounds good to me – unless they’re going to raiseprices.

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