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Douglaston site to stay a supermarket

The fate of food shoppers in Douglaston seems much improved after a recent meeting in Assemblymember Mark Weprin’s office.
“I’m very excited,” Weprin said, after hearing a proposal from landlord AAC Douglaston Plaza LLC and Howie and Dan Glickberg, two principals of the Fairway Supermarket chain.
The owners of the shopping center on Douglaston Parkway and 61st Avenue caused a firestorm of indignation last year, when they sought to buy out the lease of the Waldbaum’s supermarket in the lower level of the complex, and replace it with a Best Buy electronics store.
The application to change the allowable use of the structure, now limited to a supermarket, to any retail use was roundly defeated after a contentious meeting of Community Board 11.
When informed of the nature of the meeting at Weprin’s office, local attorney and activist Ana Levine, one of the most outspoken critics of the Best Buy proposal, said she was “thrilled.”
Both Weprin and Levine tempered their remarks, however, suggesting that the devil is in the details.
Before Fairway will sign a lease, they indicated that they require an additional 9,000 square feet of storage space, to be built behind the existing structure. The company, whose stores are known for selling a wide variety of fresh produce and upscale food items, and the landlord indicated that new and expanded storage would be necessary.
The area proposed for the storage extension is not visible from the street and is currently underutilized, according to the landlord.
Sources familiar with the layout of the shopping complex agreed that the proposed area for the construction would not affect consumer parking.
Fairway and the landlord are also seeking to build an elevator so shoppers can access the upper level parking lot with shopping carts.
In order to realize these plans, applications for a variance of the existing zoning on the property would have to proceed through the Uniform Land Use Review procedure.
This would involve application to the Board of Standards and Appeals, and a public hearing at the Community Board.
“As long as they don’t try to put up a huge sign or stay open all night, it will be a good thing,” Levine opined. “This is still a residential neighborhood,” she said.
Weprin echoed the sentiment. “The presentation was very impressive,” he said, adding, “The residents wanted to keep a supermarket in that location, and as long as it’s basically the same size store, it’s what they said they want.”
Both Weprin and Levine noted that Waldbaums still has over a year on its lease, so there is sufficient time to fully consider the proposal by the landlord and Fairway.

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