Moving Target? Community board chair says big-box retailer plans to leave Elmhurst for Middle Village

Queens Place mall
THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The question is up in the air as to whether Target’s Elmhurst store will relocate after it was announced at the Community Board 4 meeting the corporation has its eye on space in Middle Village.

Louis Walker, Community Board 4’s chair, told attendees at the Tuesday night meeting that Target in Elmhurst at Queens Place is closing at the end of December.

But the big-box retailer did not confirm the claim when contacted by QNS. A spokesperson for Target said that the company had no plans to close that location.

Walker’s account also left it unclear whether or not the corporation would choose another location in Queens or what would happen to the space if they vacate.

“That’s a rather large parcel of land, so we should be quite concerned what’s going to end up in that space if it doesn’t remain a mall,” Walker said. “A lot of the brick-and-mortar stores anywhere have problems surviving and this would just add to that situation … The Target will move to Middle Village where the Kmart used to be.”

Walker added that he was disappointed that Target did not want to move to the former Sears location on Queens Boulevard, which he said leaves employees of the store in a “very awkward position” during the holidays.

While Walker indicated that the big-box store may be relocating to Rentar Plaza at 66-26 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village, the shopping center could not confirm this was the case.

“At this time I cannot confirm that,” Felice Bassin from Rentar Development, which operates Rentar Plaza, said when QNS contacted her on April 10.

Councilman Robert Holden took a welcome approach to the prospect of Target relocating into Middle Village claiming it would add value his constituents would cash in on.

“I’m hopeful that Target is in fact coming to the Rentar Plaza because I think that would be a great use of the space and my constituents would benefit from it,” Holden said. “I would also welcome other stores from Queens Place, if that mall ends up closing, to help fill the void at Rentar Plaza and add value to it once again.”

A spokesman for Cushman & Wakefield, who operate Queens Place, declined to comment.

Rentar has been though at least three rounds with Community Board 5 to make major changes to their property to attract new retailers after Toys R Us and Kmart closed, leaving a massive vacancies in their space.

Rentar was attempting to redeem the situation by subdividing the 190,000 total square feet of space as the trend continues of big-box retailers downsizing and expand their loading bay access.

Two additional bays will need to be added to the eight already on the south end of the property.

The new truck entrance will still face Metropolitan Avenue, but 18-wheelers will pull straight into a zone to be built within the property 4 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.

CB5 found this proposal much more agreeable at their February meeting, placating concerns at previous meetings regarding earlier plans members believed put pedestrians at risk.

In January, local residents created a Change.org petition calling on Target to take Rentar Plaza into consideration.

Developers Sun Equity and Heskel Group have been working for over a year to install a TargetExpress at 82nd Street just south of Roosevelt Avenue, not too far away from the Queens Place Target.

But activists from Queens Neighborhoods United have put up staunch opposition to the effort the develop the space claiming that it would gentrify the area by putting mom-and-pop shops out of business.

The fight against the Target location has even gone to the state Supreme Court on the grounds that zoning does not allow for anything other than small vendors.

Austin Street and 70th Street in Forest Hills is also home to one of the smaller TargetExpress locations.

Max Parrott contributed to this report.

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