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Queens Chronicle

CB 13 approves retail reassurance

Shopping center owners get a new zone with an eye toward the future

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Thu Dec 26, 2013.

The owners of a Queens Village shopping center got some help in hedging their bets from Community Board 13 on Monday night.

DERP Associates of Long Island owns the property at the intersection of Hillside and Braddock avenues that serves as home to a Sears hardware and appliance store, an auto parts store and a bank.

The board approved a zoning change that would make it easier to attract a new, large-scale retailer should Sears ever decide to close up or relocate.

DERP Associates attorney Richard Lobel said Sears occupies 26,000 square feet.

“Which is allowed in this zone for a hardware or sporting goods store,” he said.

But in the event Sears does leave, other retailers, such as a Marshalls, T.J. Maxx or another chain would be limited to 10,000 square feet without the rezoning, thus limiting the ability to attract what Lobel said would be a large retailer that is a good fit for the neighborhood.

The application, which previously had been approved by CB 13’s Land Use Committee, passed the full board by a vote of 29-1.

Prior to the vote, some board members asked about parking, and worried that new zoning could encourage the owner or a new tenant to increase the size of the building.

Lobel said the regulations would allow it, but that logistics — and space on hand for new parking spaces — would make such a move highly unlikely.

“Right now you have 120 parking spaces,” he said. “The new regulations would require more than 240, but the current number is grandfathered in.”

That is, he said, unless the building undergoes any major structural changes or is replaced altogether, in which case DERP would need to come up with enough space to more than double the parking availability.

“The new parking regulations lock them into the current size,” Lobel said.

In another matter related to land use, Committee Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht said there is a formal effort underway by businesses in the area of Springfield Gardens, Brookville and Rosedale to establish an industrial business improvement district.

Hellenbrecht and Jack Friedman, a board member who also is executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, explained that a BID is a formal consortium of willing participants who agree to tax themselves a certain amount of money each year to pay for things like improved streetscaping, trash removal, security and snow removal.

“And these things only supplement the services already provided by the city; they do not replace them,” Hellenbrecht said.

He said the major players would be warehouses, freight handling firms and other industrial businesses, though private homeowners who wish a seat at the table and an opportunity to share in the benefits can join for $1 per year.

“There are 80 BIDs in New York City and there is not one that has had a bad impact in the neighborhood,” Friedman said.

Hellenbrecht said establishing a BID would do nothing to change zoning in the area, and would not permit activity that is not already allowed.

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