Work to Begin On Far Rockaway Shopping Center
Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, spoke with The Wave last week about the reconstruction work.
"They redid the parking lot, are going to improve the lighting and start doing renovations to stores," said Gaska. "They have a couple of new clients and are looking for [more] new clients."
George Arzt Communication, the company that represents the developer, Shopco Advisory Group, spoke with The Wave on Tuesday. He confirmed the upcoming plans for the site.
In addition to repairing the parking lot and improving lighting, George Arzt, a spokesman for the agency said there will also be "improvements to [store] facades."
Shopco is also meeting with current and possible new tenants.
"The plan is for commercial leasing to be complete in 2010," said Arzt. "They are exploring different security measures and as soon as the national economy turns around they'll go into phase two - bringing in a big box store."
While no big box store have been selected, Arzt said the developers "have some stores in mind."
In our June 12 issue, Gaska said that two separate plans were being considered for the site. Under Plan A, among other things, the parking lot would be closed, repaved and all of the storefronts would be renovated. Security guards would collect parking fees from Nassau County residents who use who use the lot and then take the A Train to Manhattan. Plan B would see the all the structures torn down and the mall be rebuilt with an anchor store such as Target, Kohl's and a restaurant like Applebee's.
According to sources, who asked not to be identified because nothing has been yet agreed upon, the developers are asking that the city kick in half of the estimated $16 million for the major renovations of the property.
So far 12 new handicapped parking spaces - four in front of Thriftway Drugs, four near Capital One Bank, and another four near the Associated Supermarket - were recently painted on the parking lot. Since these are the first handicapped accessible spaces in the lot, this puts the site's owner Rita Stark in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.
According to the city's Department of Buildings' website, a permit for the demolition of 20-12 Mott Avenue, part of the shopping center, was recently renewed. No further information on this permit is available at this time.
The renovations would relieve Stark of a January 2008 open violation from the Environmental Control Board for failure to maintain the building. The violation states that the aluminum siding over the walkway is in a state of disrepair at various locations throughout the mall. Stark was instructed to make repairs "in a safe and lawful manner." So far, despite the $2,500 fine, repairs have yet to be made.
In 2006, Stark hired Shopco Advisory Group - a national real estate developer/ manager located in New York - as the developer. Since then several plans have been proposed and rejected.
For 20 years Stark has let the shopping center go downhill, local officials say. The Far Rockaway Shopping Center fell into decline when Stark's father, Fred Stark - who developed the site more than 40 years ago - died in 1988. The shopping center was the center of a fight between Stark and her brother over their father's assets. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the shopping center's slide continued.
The 340,000-square-foot shopping center was once the home to Waldbaum's, Martin's Paints, Pergament Paint, Burt's Clothing Store, a furniture store, an eye doctor, a florist, and several other businesses. It now has four active businesses - Thriftway Drugs, Associated Supermarket, North Fork Bank and Snow White Cleaners.
Gaska said that for the first time in 20 years he is hopeful about the shopping center.
"I am grateful and encouraged," said Gaska. "Hopefully it will happen."