2006-06-09 / Front Page

Diner's Demolition, You Can 'Bank' On It

By Brian Magoolaghan

Diner's Demolition, You Can 'Bank' On It

The Rockaway Sunset Diner will be razed in about a month to make way for a brand new bank branch that will be open for business before the end of the year, according to a source close to the project.

Plans for the bank call for a 1-story, 3,500 square-foot building made of glass and brick, according to our source who has first-hand knowledge. It will have four teller windows, two ATMs, a drive-through and about a dozen parking spaces.

"This is a great business, a great bank and they do things nicely," said the source. The finished branch will be "simple and well done."

It won't, however, be a Commerce Bank location, as some have suggested. Although Commerce is taking the northeast by storm, they are not coming to 116-11 Beach Channel Drive, according to our source, who said the eventual occupants are less prominent on the New York banking scene.

Speculation has run rampant regarding the future use of the diner property since it was sold last November. Although much of the recent gossip suggested a bank, the new owners, Wharton Realty, refused to tell The Wave who would eventually lease the property. A company representative previously said Wharton prefers to leave the big announcements to its leaseholders.

There are no public documents on file that positively state the diner's fate. Plans and permit applications have not been submitted to the Department of Buildings, but will be shortly. Demolition should take place within three or four weeks, we're told.

Neighbors of the diner property, located on Beach 116 Street and Beach Channel Drive, received a notification letter last month from Interior Architects, a firm with offices on Madison Avenue, on behalf of the property owner. "In the near future... construction will commence," the letter said. The process is being held up because the first round of bids came in over budget and negotiations are underway with a new contractor.

Wharton Realty is a Manhattan-based real estate company known for multi-million dollar deals, prime properties and recognizable retail partners. Among their news-making deals: a 30,000 square-foot West 34 Street location near the Empire State Building that Wharton is leasing to Apple for what will be the computer giant's third Manhattan location.

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It would be nice to know something about the history of the diner that is coming down. I picture one of those gleaming old stainless steel structures with a lot of character. . .apparently not, huh? How about a photo? It's a good thing we all eventually die. We would all be traumatized to never be able to recognize the places in our past. Oh well, we can never go home again anyway. Nostalgia--it's not all its cracked up to be.

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