After backlash from Community Board 5 members and the public at the Jan. 9 meeting, Rentar Plaza officials unveiled a revised plan to expand truck access into their shopping center that will allow them to subdivide and attract new tenants.
Upon hearing the plan at its Feb. 5 meeting, the Board 5 Zoning and Land Use committee was not opposed to the proposal, which will have trucks enter the Middle Village property from from Metropolitan Avenue and back the trailers into bays in the front of the building without cutting across traffic or sidewalks.
The original plan was presented to the advisory board without time for members to really study the plans before they were called on to take a vote, which resulted in a unanimous vote against a resolution in favor, but Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano express concerns over the safety allowing trucks to back into bay from Metropolitan Avenue.
“We think that the community board raised a number of issues regarding the turn off Metropolitan Avenue, with a truck having to back in from Metropolitan Avenue, and we feel it is much better to keep the trucks on the property,” Dennis Ratner said. “We actually think this is better for us.”
The truck entrance will still face Metropolitan Avenue, but 18-wheelers will pull straight into a zone within the property four feet below street level and protected by a retaining wall to allow trucks to back in without effecting traffic on busy street and without putting pedestrians going to and from the M train at risk.
The distance between the truck bay entrances and the retaining wall would be about 60 feet.
Rentar’s bid to reinvent the 66-26 Metropolitan Ave. shopping center comes after two big-box tenants, Kmart and Toys R Us, closed down in 2018 and left the company with few options to fill the space than to subdivide for retailers with smaller needs.
Felice Bassin from Rentar has said the traditional big-box retailers are either going out of business or downsizing, such as Target, which is opting for smaller spaces.
Ratner told QNS in January that it did not currently have a tenant interest in the vacant spaces.
Rentar feels it must break up the 190,000 total square feet of the space into three parts instead of just two, and three tenants will probably need more than the current eight loading bays located to the west of the building.
The front of the building currently has an entrance and two garden planters that need DOT approval to be removed since it was the agency that allowed them to be built on the sidewalk in the first place.
Community members currently have a petition online to have target consider taking one of the spaces in Rentar Plaza after the Kmart and Toys R Us moved out.