By Bill Parry
One of the most wanted retail spaces in Long Island City will have a new tenant in a matter of weeks, according to the owner of the Delta Force Army Navy store, located at 49-10 Vernon Blvd. The owner, who preferred to remain anonymous because he has been inundated with phone calls from brokers for weeks, put his 900-square-foot storefront property on the rental market three weeks ago and has heard from a steady stream of prospective tenants.
“It is the most desirable location in Hunters Point, just steps from the Vernon-Jackson subway stop,” the owner said. “All the foot traffic from the subway passes right by my door. In fact, all of the shuttle buses from the towers on the waterfront drop their passengers right in front of the store.”
The 50-something, lifelong Hunters Point resident is handling the deal himself to make sure the right tenant takes over the property.
“The first day I put up the sign I had one hundred calls and I’ve had several hundred since,” the owner said. “It’s a special location and I’m handling this myself because I don’t want to pass along an unnecessary cost of a broker to the new tenant. Why should a broker get 10 to 15 percent annually? I’m going to pick the right tenant, with no fee, directly from me, the landlord, and I’m not going to gouge them because I want them to succeed for the good of the neighborhood.”
The Delta Force Army Navy store has been the subject of rumor and speculation because it sat dormant for nearly 20 years. The owner, whose family has owned the property for close to a century, used it as a storage space for merchandise he sold on his eBay business.
“When I opened the store in 1984, the neighborhood was gritty industrial and I had a steady flow of customers,” he said. “But then the Pepsi plant closed and the towers started going up. All my work traffic was disappearing and everyone started wearing suits and ties. On the Internet I found I could sell T-shirts in a blizzard and winter jackets during a heat wave.”
He recently finished moving his merchandise to a warehouse in New Jersey and prepared the storefront for leasing.
“It’s been entertaining to hear all of the offers,” he said. “A hookah shop and other smoke shops, tons of nail shops and cell phone stores. There was a Russian shoemaker that wanted a jewelry shop and a barber shop, all three-in-one. And then there was a guy who wanted to open a tire repair shop. I said ‘Where are you going to park cars on Vernon Boulevard?’”
He has narrowed the list to an ice cream and frozen yogurt operation, a craft beer shop, a wine and cheese store, and a Greek cafe and bakery. The space may double in size as the owner renovates the rest of the first floor.
“It would make a great spot for a restaurant with the extra space in the future, maybe even a rooftop garden,” he said. “So far I’ve only heard from Manhattan restaurants trying to get into the LIC market. I’m still entertaining offers for a few more weeks. Ultimately it’s going to be who I deem is best. What fits best here on Vernon Boulevard.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr