2010-08-06 / Top Stories

Sanders And Stark Continue Shopping Center Talks

Working Relationship Established; Funding Being Sought
By Miriam Rosenberg

Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Rita Stark, the owner of the Thriftway Shopping Center, have begun discussions to renovate the site in the Far Rockaway business district after 30 years of decline. Councilman James Sanders Jr. and Rita Stark, the owner of the Thriftway Shopping Center, have begun discussions to renovate the site in the Far Rockaway business district after 30 years of decline. Thirty years after the linchpin of the Far Rockaway business district – the Thriftway Shopping Center – started going into decline, the owner of the site is now talking renovation.

During a community meeting on July 29, Councilman James Sanders Jr. told area residents he was in negotiations with Rita Stark to try to revitalize the shopping center, as reported in the July 23 issue of The Wave.

“We are in dialogue trying to negotiate with her to turn that tragedy and a social crime into a positive,” said Sanders.

He continued by saying, “We’re meeting with her and she has come up with some interesting ideas.”

While Sanders announced the negotiations, he told those at the meeting not to expect constant updates in the press.

“We don’t negotiate in the press. This is not for public relations,” said Sanders. “This is serious. We either win or lose right here. You won’t hear about it. It’s too serious …. I won’t risk it.”

An informed source – on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject – did agree to speak with The Wave.

According to the source, the 2 1/2 hour meeting between Sanders and Stark occurred approximately three months ago. Talks have been ongoing since that time.

“A working relationship was established between the councilman and Stark,” said the source.

The Wave was told the meeting was about the future of the shopping center; the past was not dwelled on. The main topic discussed by Sanders and Stark was securing financial help to renovate the site.

This confirms what The Wave was told by Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, who recently said that Stark was “looking for [financial] help from the city. I know the councilman was involved in trying to get it going.”

Because financing is still being worked on, there was no talk of what stores might be brought in. It was more along the lines of obtaining financing. In addition, discussions of potential developers have begun.

Our source did say, “She [knows she] needs to get something done and she believes the councilman can [help] do it.”

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