FR Mall Tied To Market Lease
The long awaited redevelopment of the Far Rockaway Shopping Center may finally be at hand. Last week, it was announced that the Associated Supermarket has signed a new longterm lease that includes renovation of their current building and the surrounding plaza. Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of the year.
“I am proud to be part of an ongoing process which I hope will help to revitalize downtown Far Rockaway,” said Councilman James Sanders Jr. in a press release. “For years the Thriftway Mall [Far Rockaway Shopping Center] has stood at the epicenter of Mott Avenue’s bustling business district, yet its potential as an engine for job creation, economic revitalization, small business, and entrepreneurial opportunity has never fully been realized.”
The new 15-year lease will make Associated Supermarket the anchor store for the shopping center. He added that the upcoming renovations would include the entire mall.
The 340,000-square-foot shoppingcenter has long been considered the linchpin of the downtown Far Rockaway business district. It was once the home to Waldbaum’s, Martin’s Paints, a furniture store, an eye doctor, a florist, a clothing store and several other businesses. Currently, only four stores operate in the shopping center. Arzt said the site’s owners are in negotiations with various businesses to occupy the area.
Some of those businesses that are envisioned to come into the mall are, according to Artz, “[a] gym, [a] sit down restaurant; men’s, women’s and children’s clothing [stores]; men’s and women’s shoes [stores]; a drug store; local businesses and boutiques.”
Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, said the “board feels good” about the latest news.
“If what they say is true …it would be a big positive for the downtown area and the people who live there,” said Gaska.
He added that CB 14 hopes that other developers will follow Stark’s lead and add improvements to the overall business district such as “more meters for parking for all the merchants on Mott … side street lighting, and benches in the area.
“We hope that now that Stark is doing improvements, the city will see the wisdom to make more improvements,” said Gaska.
Sanders, who has advocated for renovation of the shopping center since he came into office, met with Rita Stark, the owner of the shopping center, in the middle of last year. That first meeting led to a working relationship between Sanders and Stark. Last fall, small, yet visible signs of change at the site could be seen. Residents saw trash being removed from empty stores. Contractors repaired roofs, rebuilt the awnings near the Associated Supermarket, removed signs and redid all the stores’ façades, and repainted the buildings and working gates. New store gates were installed outside the stores in November. Handicapped parking spaces were added to the lot at the end of last year.
A spokesperson for Sanders was cautiously optimistic about the announcement by saying that the new long-term lease and promise of expansion for Associated hopefully brings with it the idea “of big time renovation for the area.”
“I see this as the beginning of the beginning,” Sanders was quoted as saying in the Daily News.
The shopping center started to fall into disrepair when it became the center of a fight between Stark and her brother over the assets of their father, Fred, who developed the site more than 40 years ago. He died in 1988. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the shopping center’s slide continued.
In 2006, Shopco Advisory Group was hired to help Stark revitalize the shopping center. Since then different plans had been drawn up and presented to the borough president’s office, as well as the community.
Construction is scheduled to begin at the end of this year or early in 2012.