A BJ’s Wholesale Club and Burlington Coat Factory took a step toward landing in Long Island City on Tuesday as the Community Board 1 recommended a rezoning that would permit the big-box retailers to open in Plaza 48.
Heidenberg Properties Group, the owner of the plaza located at 35-50 48th Street, got the nod from the board to rezone the two buildings in the plaza in order to fit the use of the new stores .
The 136,000 square-foot plaza will be getting a BJ’s Wholesale Club in the building that was formerly National Wholesale Liquidators and a Burlington Coat Factory into the building that was formerly Toys R Us.
Representing the property owner, attorney Vincent Petrano argued that the change in zoning was purely a technicality and would not affect the plaza’s day-to-day function or traffic patterns.
“There’s really nothing changing on the site. The buildings that you see today are the same ones that you will hopefully see after this approval. They’re not going to be expanding or anything, it’s just a matter of the use. Toys R Us is allowed as of right and some future uses are not,” Petrano said.
Members of the Board pushed back over traffic issues. One member pointed out that the environmental review for the plaza was based on the premise that the use of the stores was the same, but she questioned whether the new retailers would attract more customers and clog the intersection of 48th St. and Northern Boulevard.
Both Petrano and a Department Housing Preservation and Development consultant who came with him argued the new businesses as well as the old ones are considered large destination retailers, so a new study would yield the same results.
At the end of the meeting, the Board voted 29 in favor, two against and one abstention, with the condition that the facility should provide traffic personnel during peak hours and based on seasonal needs to move traffic off of the plaza’s side streets.