By Eric Jankiewicz
With the announcement made earlier this month that Junior’s Cheesecake Factory will be leaving its Maspeth factory, another part of the neighborhood’s industrial identity is being removed.
Junior’s Cheesecake, with its flagship store in Brooklyn, baked all of its goods for the last 15 years at a factory in Maspeth. But, according to a spokesman for the company, the bakery will be moving out of the 20,000-square-foot factory at 58-42 Maurice Ave. later this year
And Maspeth’s identity as an industrial and manufacturing neighborhood is slowly chipping away. Last year, Hansel N’ Gretel produced its last slice of deli meat last year after being in operation for 140 years in New York City.
The Hansel N’ Gretel site sits on more then two acres of land and the area is an industrial zone, according to city records. Real estate agency Avison Young is brokering the sale of the site and Cayre Investments will turn most of it into a storage unit, according to the real estate agency. While storage units are not residential units, the business will not bring in the same number of jobs and activity that Hansel N’ Gretel and the cheesecake factory brought.
“Industrial businesses are currently being pushed out of the neighborhood,” said Jean Tanler, the coordinator for the Maspeth Industrial Business Association. “Currently we’re experiencing a shortage of industrial property because of rezoning and conversions to other uses. So what little is left in New York City is being highly competed over.”
Junior’s plans on completely moving its operations to Burlington, N.J. by July.
“We can’t afford the real estate around here,” said Alan Rosen, Junior’s owner. “New York is very interested in residential development, but commercial is tough, and it doesn’t make sense for a bakery to acquire that real estate.”
Tanler is confident that industrial business will also gravitate towards Maspeth because of its centrally located throne in New York City and its developed distribution centers. But, she said, as real estate development continues to push out into Queens, the zoning laws of the area might change to exclude manufacturing and industrial plants from coming into the area.
“There’s nothing within the zoning that protects the area’s future,” Tanler said. “There’s this perception that industrial is ugly, so when there’s an opportunity to develop something else, there tends to be support for it.”
Reach reporter Eric Jankiewicz by e-mail at ejank