Despite some local fears that Micro Center will never open, company officials have told the Queens Chronicle they hope to begin business at their only borough store sometime next month.
The computer-electronics store, at 71-25 Kissena Blvd., in the Kew Gardens Hills shopping area known as the “Kissena Curve,” is located in a former furniture store that has been under renovation for more than two years. The curve runs along Kissena between 71st and 72nd avenues.
Recently, Shuckman Realty of Woodbury, LI began advertising 3,383 square feet of space for lease at 71-25 to 71-55 Kissena Blvd., adding to the fears that Micro Center would never open.
But Mike Papai, vice president of marketing at Micro Center’s Ohio headquarters, told the Chronicle the space for lease is in the basement. Papai sees that venture as happening sometime in the future.
He indicated that officials had planned for a December opening, “but we had last-minute construction issues and now hope to be open officially in February.”
The store is expected to have a staff of 70 full-time employes and be open seven days a week until 9 p.m. The nearest Micro Center is in Westbury, LI, and Papai called the merchandise “competitively priced.”
Nearby residents and merchants are hoping the Queens store will revive the strip, which has suffered from several vacancies for years. Ken Cohen, president of the Flushing Suburban Civic Association, wants Micro Center to be successful and draw a lot of customers, who then might shop or eat nearby.
“The merchants are optimistic and there is parking in the rear, but the lot is jammed now with shoppers at Aron’s Kissena Farms [at 72-15 Kissena] and National Wholesale Liquidators [at 71-01 Kissena],” he said. “It would help if Micro Center added an entrance to the front so that Kissena Boulevard isn’t diminished.”
Although Cohen, who has lived in the area since 1952, is happy to see a new store going in, he remains concerned about the future of the Kissena Curve. “I still think civic groups and community boards should be more proactive on what goes in a neighborhood,” he said. “The opportunities exist, but we don’t take full advantage of it.”
He noted that the curve has lost a clothing store, a Chinese takeout restaurant and a laundromat in recent months and would like them replaced with others that area residents need.
Many of the merchants, who asked that their names not be used, blame the high number of vacancies on the absentee landlord, who they say keeps raising rents and won’t allow the stores to adapt and survive.
The stores are owned by Pelcorp, a Florida real estate firm that is represented here by David Minkin Real Estate, a Rego Park property management firm. Minkin employees would not comment on the long-empty Kissena Boulevard stores.
Two existing businesses that have managed to stay open are Valentino’s Pizzeria at 71-47 Kissena Blvd. and Cards and Gifts at 72-05 Kissena Blvd. Only the card shop would speak on the record and told the Chronicle last fall that it had to cut back on the number of newspapers it carries and reduced the prices of greeting cards. A worker there said it’s almost impossible to reach the landlord and he wouldn’t let them adapt to the times by adding a rear deli.