The MTA announced last Friday that it is seeking a master tenant to renovate, lease and operate three buildings on the Lefferts Boulevard bridge in Kew Gardens.
The selected master tenant will have the opportunity to lease the property from the MTA, parent agency of the Long Island Rail Road, for at least 25 years, sublease the retail and manage day-to-day operation of the collection of stores.
Nine of the 13 storefronts are occupied. The stores’ subleases expired on March 31 but the MTA guaranteed them the right to stay to the end of the year if they choose to.
The MTA will issue a formal request for proposals from potential tenants on Oct. 16, with proposals due by Dec. 15.
Janno Lieber, president of MTA Construction and Development, said the agency is reaffirming its commitment to the area.
“This is a significant leasing opportunity, but it’s also an opportunity to play an indispensable role in a tight-knit community by managing and maintaining a set of properties that locals have many times described as a beloved community focal point,” he said in a release.
The nearly century-old bridge has avoided being torn down in recent years. Three years ago, the MTA said the span had decayed so much it would have to be torn down in 2020, when the lease was set to expire. Community pushback and legislation calling for a rehabilitation study of the bridge kept the span from being demolished.
In June 2018, LIRR President Phil Eng invested $1 million secured by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) needed for a study. In November 2019, merchants received a letter stating that the Long Island Rail Road, through the MTA Real Estate Department, is formulating a long-term plan for the retail complex.