By Mark Hallum
After a fire on Jan. 25 scorched up to 15 storefronts on a block in downtown Flushing, two organizations stepped up to offer emergency loans to two businesses damaged in the blaze. Asian Americans for Equality and Renaissance Economic Development Corporation distributed the first two checks of $50,000 last Friday with Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing).
“On the eve of one of the most important holidays in our community – and one of the most crucial for small businesses – tragedy struck for over a dozen mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood,” Kim said. “Nothing that we say or do can reverse all of the damage and devastation caused by this fire, but I thank AAFE and Renaissance for stepping up and providing these recovery loans to the affected shop owners.”
The fire broke out in the kitchen of a restaurant at 135-42 Roosevelt Ave. and grew to such proportions that No. 7 train access was closed at the Main Street station due to underground flooding from the water used to quench the flames. Meanwhile, commuters were diverted to the Long Island Rail Road, which was honoring MTA subway fares.
Service was restored late that night after MTA employees pumped the station dry and tested electrical components for damage, CBS New York reported.
The following day NYPD had Roosevelt Avenue sidewalks closed while work crews cleaned out charred material from the blackened interior of the building. Over two weeks later, the side of the street where the fire cauterized the businesses still smelled like soot.
There were no fatalities in the four-alarm fire that left two firefighters minor injuries.
The first two businesses to receive the loan were Elegant Hair Salon at 138-38 Roosevelt Ave. and Silver World venture of New York at 39-22 Main St. Both owners live in Flushing.
The loans include a 2 percent fixed interest rate, a three-month to six-month deferment of interest and principal and terms of up to five years including the deferment period. The money was to be available within 72 hours of the paperwork being filed.
“This tragic fire devastated the small businesses of Flushing, and when it hit, we knew we needed to act fast to help get them back on their feet,” AAFE Executive Director Christopher Kui said. “I am proud to say that the very next week we were able to provide financial relief to these two businesses and continue to work with others affected. Immigrant and minority-owned small businesses are always at risk of being displaced and a tragedy like this can put an incredible amount of pressure on them. We are happy to help them stay in the community by providing these loans and business support.”
Businesses within the area of Main Street between 39th Avenue and 40th Road, and Roosevelt Avenue between Prince and Main Street qualify to file paperwork for the loan.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall