2009-02-27 / Top Stories

Weiner: Vacant Storefronts Become Major Problem

Rockaway Has Highest Percentage Of Empty Stores
By Howard Schwach

Congressman Weiner Congressman Weiner The Beach 116 Street shopping street, once the pride of Rockaway's west end, has gone to seed, according to a recent report issued by Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents parts of the peninsula, including the shopping street.

Weiner says that the west end shopping area, with 42.5 percent vacancy, has the highest percentage of vacant stores than any other area in Queens.

"The knee-deep recession is forcing small businesses throughout Queens to close," Weiner said in the report. "This is happening at an accelerated and alarming rate."

Weiner surveyed 10 neighborhood shopping areas for his study, including Myrtle Avenue, Kissena Boulevard, Bay Terrace, Sutphin Boulevard, Austin Street and Jamaica Avenue, in addition to Beach 116 Street.

He found that out of 1,730 stores in the surveyed areas, 211 are either vacant or in the process of closing down.

"Vacancy rates have nearly doubled in the past year," Weiner said. "When the economy catches a cold, small shopping areas like Beach 116 Street catch pneumonia.

Too many community shops like the stores in Rockaway - the backbone of the city's economy, are hard-hit by the downturn."

The report shows that the Jamaica Avenue area has the largest number of closed stores, with 80 closed out of 335.

The Beach 116 Street strip, however, has the highest percentage, with 17 out of 40 stores now vacant, Weiner says.

Weiner says that the stimulus bill recently signed by President Barack Obama will assist small business people. "The president and Congress gave a major economic boost to small businesses," he said.

"The stimulus will save approximately 30,000 jobs in Queens and more than 90,000 jobs citywide."

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