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The former Macy's storefront in Douglaston Plaza

A local group is asking for the community’s support to bring a big-box store to an empty storefront at a Douglaston shopping mall.

Lowe’s Home Improvement will present a proposal at the upcoming Community Board 11 meeting to open up a new location within the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center, located at 242-02 61st Ave. The chain looks to assume the storefront on the upper level that previously housed Macy’s, which closed due to increased competition with the online market.

Rosemary Guidice, president of the Douglaston Townhouse Condominiums Association, told QNS she and other community members in support of bringing the home improvement chain to the area recently formed the “Douglaston Coalition for the Betterment of the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center.”

Two weeks ago, the group created a petition to bring Lowe’s to the vacant storefront. Nearly 200 Douglaston and Bayside residents have signed on to show their support, Guidice said.

“If you read up on Lowe’s, they’re a very community oriented corporation,” she said. “They give back to the areas that they’re involved with.”

Guidice said she and other locals are becoming increasingly concerned about the large empty storefront, which has been vacant since April 2017. In a flyer circulated by the coalition on local Facebook groups, the group says the shopping center has become “like a ghost town” without Macy’s.

“The community has a decision to make: do you want to leave [the storefront] sitting dormant and have the area become rundown or do you go and find someone who is very accommodating and has talked to us consistently throughout this process and work with them?” Guidice told QNS.

The new location would bring about 150 jobs to area, Guidice also noted. The local plans to speak at the upcoming Community Board 11 meeting in favor of the proposal.

When talk of Lowe’s impending arrival began to circulate in January 2017, locals expressed concern with rumors that Lowe’s was looking to also assume the MovieWorld storefront on the lower level. In response, residents launched a petition to save the family-owned theater known for its low ticket prices.

Later that same month, general manager Russel Levinson told QNS the future of the theater is left up to the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the landlord, who does have the option to buy out MovieWorld’s lease.

A year later, the theater is still in operation. The landing page of the business’s website currently reads “MOVIEWORLD IS NOT CLOSING!”

Department of Buildings records indicate that Perry M. Petrillo Architects filed a work application in November 2016 “to convert the multi-theater complex … on the sub-cellar level into a retail sales (Lowe’s Home Improvement Center).” The plans were later disapproved by DOB on Jan. 24, 2017.

Lowe’s spokesperson Steven Salazar said the company is not prepared to share any announcements about a new location at the site.

“We are always evaluating locations for possible stores, but we’re not able to confirm possible sites unless we’ve closed on the property,” he said.

The Douglaston Plaza shopping center is owned by Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC) and takes up a total of 300,000 square feet. The shopping mall is also home to a Fairway Supermarket, Toys R Us and Modell’s Sporting Goods.

QNS reached out for AAC for comment and is awaiting a response.

The Community Board 11 meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 at M.S. 158 in Bayside.

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