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Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps
The Rentar Plaza on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

With Kmart currently running closeout sales and Toys R Us having closed months ago, the Rentar Plaza in Middle Village has two large storefronts with a murky future.

When reached over the phone on Sept. 11, Dennis Ratner, president of Rentar Development— which owns the facility — confirmed to QNS that the company has not yet been able to find new retailers to move into the doomed Kmart and already vacant Toys R Us.

As part of a nationwide series of closures in January after filing for bankruptcy, Toys R Us announced that it would be closing the Middle Village location. In July, Kmart also announced that the Rentar Plaza location would be included among nationwide closures of Sears and Kmart stores, and it is expected to shut down sometime in October.

While Ratner explained that Rentar is “talking to a number of people” about taking over the commercial spaces, he said that it is not close to making a deal with a potential suitor at this time. Ratner added that the “general retail market condition today” has proved to be the biggest challenge in finding new stores to move in, and mentioned that “there is a lot of retail vacancy in Queens at the moment.”

Indeed, the downfall of former corporate giants Toys R Us and Kmart is evidence that the brick-and-mortar retail industry is in jeopardy. In Queens alone, Sears closed a location in Rego Park last year, another Kmart is closing in Rosedale in September and the Babies R Us in College Point closed earlier this year. Last year, a Macy’s in Douglaston closed as well as 14 CVS locations and eight Walgreens/Duane Reade locations in the borough.

Rentar Plaza alone has been home to a number of retail chains that have come and gone since it first opened in 1972. The same space where the Kmart is currently located was home to Robert Hall, Times Square Store and Caldor, all of which went bankrupt.

The Toys R Us site was previously a Waldbaum’s Supermarket, which relocated to the Metro Mall — located below Rentar Plaza — during the 1980s. The Waldbaum’s at Metro Mall closed in the 2000s and was replaced by BJ’s Wholesale Club, and the Waldbaum’s chain itself faded into history back in 2015.

According to Ripco Real Estate, the Toys R Us and Kmart vacancies are being advertised as a combined space for a potential “big-box” store. When packaged together, the two stores offer a total of approximately 200,000 square feet with eight interior loading docks and more than 1,000 parking spots on the roof.

The properties, which are on the market for the first time in 20 years, would be available as of February 2019, according to the listing.

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Dennis Guerrerio September 12, 2018 / 06:11AM
Vacant stores have become a common sight in Queens. I live in Whitestone and there are large stores that have been vacant for years. I suspect that it's because of the skyrocketing rents, as well as the quality of the area. Of course, internet shopping certainly hasn't helped.
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