By Mark Hallum
Rentar Development, the owners of 66-26 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village, may be looking to revamp their building, vacated by two big retailers recently, to attract new tenants and prevent the space from becoming a ghost town.
July saw Kmart closing its doors for good; that was preceded by Toys R’ Us after the company filed bankruptcy in January. Now, the developers are seeking permission to modify the building for additional truck loading bays.
Community Board 5 will take a vote on Rentar’s proposal at the Jan. 9 meeting, which could control the fate of whether or not the commercial space will find a fresh suitor.
Gary Giordano, CB 5’s district manager, said that although he is not opposed to the application to the city Dept. of Transportation, he does not believe there has been adequate time for the advisory board to really examine the plans and analyze its impacts to the community.
“I doubt that noise would be a major issue over on the front of Metropolitan, because of the cemetery across the street and really no houses right there. I think navigation into the loading bay could be an issue,” Giordano said.
“This is one of those things where they want the recommendation quickly. This recommendation is due the 10th, the day after the board meeting; so this is not going to be as organized as we usually are,” Giordano added, expressing concern for pedestrians on the sidewalk as well. “How easy is it going to be for tractor-trailers to back into the proposed loading bays?”
Dennis Ratner, the president of Rentar Development, could not be reached for comment, but the company kicked up its search for new tenants once Kmart announced Rentar Plaza’s location would be among its locations shuttering in October.
Ratner said in September the company was not even close to finding a company willing to set up shop. Two retaining wall-enclosed gardens will have to be removed if the loading bays are constructed.
Rentar Plaza is not the only commercial real estate struggling with the brick and mortar store bust.
With Macy’s closing hundreds of stores in 2017, including the Douglaston Plaza location, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, which owns the shopping center, was forced to take a strong look at how they could stay profitable.
The company turned to Lowe’s Home Improvement to reinvent the space for their use and fill a hardware store demand only being met by a retail outlet 10 miles away in Long Island.
Ashkenazy was forced to buy MovieWorld out of their space in the shopping center, displacing the business to cater to the larger corporation’s retail space needs.
Extensive modifications to the building were required which led to a contentious Community Board 11 meeting and the eventual vote to advise the Board of Standards and appeals to approve the Lowe’s variance.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall