The storefronts on Woodhaven Boulevard between 63rd Road and Dana Court in Rego Park have been vacant for almost two years and with no sign of new businesses moving in, residents are becoming impatient.
The strip, which can hold at least 10 businesses, is home to only one. Bridie’s Restaurant, located at 63-28 Woodhaven Blvd. which has currently been re-painted, is the only business occupant on the block.
“Vacant storefronts help nobody,” Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association said. “It just brings graffiti and crime to the area, something that no one one wants in their neighborhood.”
The strip, including a four-story apartment around the corner on Dana Court, is owned by High Point Associates. The company, which is located in California, leases out many buildings in Queens and other parts of New York City. It could not be reached for comment despite numerous phone calls made to their offices.
Until recently, the entire block was covered up with scaffolding. It was reportedly removed so the building owner could fix the business spaces up in hopes of attracting new tenants but there are currently no work-actions filed with the Department of Buildings.
The high number of vacant business space is said to be a result of increase in rent. According to a few residents and civic leaders, the building owner increased the rent so much that business owners had no choice but to leave.
Bridie’s is reportedly under a 10-year contract and cannot have their rent raised so long as the contract is active.
“These buildings are in terrible, terrible shape,” Lorraine Sciulli, the editor for the Juniper Park Civic Association newsletter said. “They keep saying they’re going to do work on them but they didn’t do much work at all, if any.”
In addition, the occupied apartments that sit above the empty storefronts have been said to be in bad shape as well.
One resident, who requested to remain anonymous, said the owner has been unresponsive to requests made by tenants.
“The owner needs to do something,” he said. “Look at the front of these things, they look terrible. I was talking to one of my neighbors and they were saying there could even be mold here and I really don’t think that’s safe.”
DOB reports show no filed complaints regarding mold but there have been a number of complaints on the electrical wiring.
The most recent complaint was filed on July 7, 2010 for “suspected illegal electrical wiring.”According to the DOB, the issue has been resolved.
For now, the future of the storefronts on Woodhaven Boulevard is unclear. The JPCA has been contacting the DOB as well as continuing to pressure High Point Associates to clean up the space.
Tenants say they think change is unlikely since the owner is nearly impossible to reach.
“They never do anything,” one person said.
The apartment building on 8453 Dana Court however, is set to have a new heating unit installed, according to the DOB.