Get in or get out of the way, one real estate developer is saying to Lowe’s Home Improvement, which has been slated to open at Douglaston Plaza for months.
From the outside, nothing has changed at the location formerly occupied by Macy’s and MovieWorld in Douglaston Plaza months after Community Board 11 approved the renovations at a February 2017 meeting that would eventually allow Lowe’s Home Improvement to do business in the shopping center.
Alexander DiMopoulis from East Coast Realtors claims to have a big-box client interested in space who is looking to move into the space, but claimed that building owners, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, is being tight-lipped on what seems to be the hold up the renovation for Lowe’s.
“I can’t even get the setup to give my client any information on the property, they’re interested,” DiMopoulos said.
He added that there is currently a “for rent” sign on the property though this has not been confirmed and apart from a September 2018 complaint there has been no other action on the city Department of Buildings website for the address.
Jon Popin, an attorney with Duane Morris, which represents Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, argued at the February 2018 CB11 meeting that it was paramount for the variance allowing Lowe’s to move into Douglaston Plaza to prevent the shopping center from turning into a ghost town.
Representatives for Duane Morris and Ashkenazy did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding an update on the renovation.
But the only way Lowe’s could utilize the space formerly occupied by Macy’s, which shuttered in December 2016, would be if the footprint of the store was expanded to consume the neighboring business: MovieWorld. The theater closed last July.
Popin said the variance came with the support of Douglaston Townhouse Condominiums Association, which worried that property values would drop with an adjacent shopping center in decline.
“We didn’t know how this would play out because this is going to be a new-built, large format hardware store coming almost into their back fence,” Popin told TimesLedger in a July interview. “They were very concerned with Macy’s going out and Macy’s being really the main anchor — the only anchor — at the shopping center that if Lowe’s didn’t come in and no one else really wanted to, that it was really going to become a darkened site and affect their property values ultimately. Maybe it was economic reason that drove their support more than friendly neighborliness, but both of the issues were definitely at play.”
The space in which Macy’s operated was 157,000 square feet, but Popin said that Lowe’s needs 250,000 to operate. The BSA granted a variance allowing for a 15,000-square-foot extension of the sub-cellar, which was approved in March 2018.
At the February 2018 Board 11 meeting in which the advisory body approved the variance, those in favor argued that the nearest large hardware store was 10 miles away while opposition gave passionate testimony to how important the movie theater was to the surrounding communities offering the cheapest prices in the city.
With five years still on its lease, MovieWorld owner Russell Levinson said their contract with Ashkenazy included the right of the shopping center to buy them out, which paved the way for MovieWorld’s closure last summer.