The retail complex on the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge in Kew Gardens could get a new lease on life.
The MTA announced it is seeking a master tenant to renovate, lease and operate the three buildings that are currently home to 13 storefronts totaling 14,500 square feet.
The storefronts are at 81-09 through 81-21 Lefferts Blvd. and the selected master tenant will have the opportunity to lease the property from the MTA, on behalf of MTA Long Island Rail Road, for at least 25 years; sublease the retail; and manage day-to-day operations of the collection of retailers. The master tenant will be responsible for performing physical renewal work to the buildings and ensuring they remain in good condition.
The buildings were built in the 1920s atop two concrete and steel platforms at both sides of the roadway’s bridge over the Long Island Rail Road. In June 2018, LIRR president Phil Eng invested $1 million secured by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz to ensure the continuing structural stability of the platforms over the tracks on which the stores are built.
“With this solicitation going out to the leading real estate companies in the country, the MTA is reaffirming its commitment to the Kew Gardens community,” MTA Construction & Development President Janno Lieber said. “This is a significant leasing opportunity, but it is also an opportunity to play an indispensable role in a tight-knit community by managing and maintaining a set of properties that locals have many times described as a beloved community focal point.”
Sylvia Hack of the Kew Gardens Civic Association has called the Lefferts Boulevard bridge of stores “our Ponte Vecchio,” the iconic Florence, Italy, span. State Senator Leroy Comrie has referred to it as the “one-of-a-kind cultural gem” in the heart of Queens.
Currently, nine of the storefronts are occupied and four are vacant. The occupied stores’ subleases expired on March 31, but the MTA has guaranteed them the right to stay through Dec. 31 if they wish. The master tenant selected by the MTA will negotiate future leases for the buildings, balanced against the master tenant’s mandate to perform the long-sought-after building upgrades.
“Make no mistake: It will be a challenge to perform to the high standards demanded by the MTA and the people of Kew Gardens,” Lieber said. “We are confident there are highly qualified firms that will be able to execute and, with the full support of the MTA turn this set of stores into an even greater and more sought-after place to do business.”
The MTA will issue a formal request for proposals from potential master tenants on Friday, Oct. 16, with proposals due by Dec. 15. The properties are being offered by MTA Real Estate through its retail broker and consultant, CBRE. The contact is Loren Baron at [email protected].