Lydig Supermarket draws ire over blocked egress

A locally owned supermarket has drawn the ire of Lydig Avenue neighbors, along with fines and criticism from city officials.

International Retail Wholesale Food Market Corp, located at 706 Lydig Avenue, is accused of clutters the sidewalk outside the store and obstructing pedestrian walkways, claim local residents.

Since it opened in 2014, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has received four complaints about the store – three of those complaints were for blocking the sidewalk, and another for expired food labels.

The store has the proper DCA Stoop Line Stand license, which allows the display of fruit or other goods outside the store itself.

The store was last inspected on Friday, April 14, when it received violations for having boxes of merchandise for sale outside the area of the stoop line stand and blocking the sidewalk, not having a scale available for customer use, and not labeling pre-packaged items in a proper fashion to properly indicate the quantity of products in a package in terms of weight, measure or count.

Under NYC Department of Sanitation guidelines, sidewalk areas must be kept free from any obstruction that could impede pedestrian traffic. Structures used to display merchandise outside a store can extend no more than three feet into the sidewalk from the building, and cannot be taller than five feet.

Merchandise displayed outside a store must be available for purchase in the store itself and must also be paid for inside the store.

Community Board 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke said he was aware of the issue, and that he and other local leaders had spoken to the store’s owners multiple times about the complaints.

“I’ve personally had trouble walking down the sidewalk because of the way they conduct business,” he said.

Warneke said he had received complaints from several residents who have had trouble navigating the sidewalk in front of the store with a wheelchair.

The building was acquired by Viola Santelia of Yonkers in September of 2016, under Viola Santelia Realty, according to city records.

A person who answered Santelia’s home phone number directed calls to a person at another number, Fillipo Tortora, who identified himself as the building’s landlord and the market’s former owner.

When asked about the sidewalk complaints Tortora said he believed local officials should be more concerned with crime in the area, such as drug activity on nearby Cruger Avenue late at night.

“They’re worried about the stand, but I’m worried about my safety at 3 a.m. in the morning,” Tortora said. “This is more important to the neighborhood, not someone who doesn’t disturb anybody and makes improvements in the area.”

The market’s manager was not at the store on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 7.

Cashiers said they did not know when she would be back, and that she comes and goes during the day.

Boxes of produce were displayed that day in cardboard boxes placed on plastic grocery crates and makeshift wooden shelves on the sidewalk in front of the store, many of which appeared to extend beyond the allowable three feet from the storefront.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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