B. 116 Project Is On Track, But Bumps May Lie Ahead
By Brian Magoolaghan
The good news is the MTA says its rehabilitation of the Beach 116 Street subway station and surrounding city-owned storefronts will be finished by late summer 2007, with the new NYPD Transit facility finished about a month later. The bad news is it's going to be little tricky until then.
MTA/New York City Transit officials met with the affected business people and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer on Beach 116 Street Tuesday to give an update on their progress and explain their plans for the next several months. The multi-million dollar project includes a new facility for the NYPD's Transit District 23 as well as a complete rehab of the subway station and five surrounding stores.
"We intend to finish everything before August, it's our deadline," said Talib Lokhandwala, a construction administrator for the MTA New York City Transit. "The whole project has to be completed by Aug 18, 2007, and that is our goal. We are on schedule as of today," he added.
Beginning Monday, March 19, the city-owned stores south of the subway station - The Last Stop Gourmet and Fashion Wave - will be closed so that contractors can re-do the storefronts and replace the roof, which is currently covered with asbestos shingles. When the project is finished, all of the city-owned property will have a more unified look. Last Stop and Fashion Wave are scheduled to be closed until Monday, April 9, officials said.
While the closures amount to lost revenue, it appeared that each of the businesspeople, who each attended the meeting, have accepted the inconvenience in the name of improvement (and the fact that they could do little to stop the project if they wanted to). Carlos Lazo of Last Stop said he's actually planning on doing his own, elective kitchen equipment upgrade during the time when he's closed in order to condense the overall disruption to his business.
Pheffer pointed out that the reconstruction could reenergize those locations and, possibly, the rest of the street. "Once it's all done it's going to increase business," she said. "We believe that having this done will be an incentive to the whole street."
Official plans for the stores north of the subway station - Joseph Otton Accounting, A&J Jewelers and Beach Cleaners - won't be ready until next week, and the MTA is working to accommodate their needs and concerns: The accountant's office won't be closed until after the tax filing deadline, and work on the jewelry store may begin early to ensure that it's open in time for Mother's Day, May 13. The dry cleaner will have about two weeks notice so that customers have time to pick up their items.
The lessees will have very limited access to their businesses during construction, and there are several other considerations: The electric to the building will be shut off at times during the demolition/reconstruction, which creates an issue for the Last Stop, which typically has food stored in freezer/refrigeration units. It also means that the stores' separate alarm systems might be triggered or disabled. Any alarm panels located in the traditional location, just inside the front door, as well as sensors on the existing front doors will have to be moved before the demolition of the storefronts begins, officials said.
Each businessperson expressed concern over various items: equipment, files, merchandise and safes, some of which they said they would not be able to remove or safely store elsewhere. The MTA, Pheffer and businesspeople discussed plans for 24-hour security and notifying the 100 Precinct of the need for increased patrol. While questions remained about whether or not the company would be bonded and/or armed, Pheffer and the businesspeople came just short of demanding it. MTA officials and contractors said they're also planning on building two barriers and adding floodlights to the area.
A temporary token booth was slated for installation at the Beach 116 Street/Rockaway Park Station this week, and starting Saturday, March 3, the southbound side of the station will be closed. MTA officials said this would not affect passengers or service. The refurbished restroom area will be open to the public in about three weeks, they said, and subway riders should start to notice other improvements in the coming weeks and months such as a highly visible Transit 23 entrance designed to highlight the police presence. Other improvements include new heaters and stained glass windows.
The hour-long meeting took place inside Resident Engineer F. Olson D. Valdemar's rented second-floor office space at 163 Beach 116 Street, the location where community members can go with questions and concerns about the project. The attendees at the meeting agreed to meet there again on April 4 at 4 p.m.