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Middle Village’s Rentar Plaza Seeks Changes Amidst Emptying Store Spaces

The owners of Rentar Plaza are looking to remove the three trees along the sidewalk and put a curb cut in place. The changes are to make way for additional loading docks, part of a move to attract tenants to the plaza. (NYC ZoLa)

Jan. 14, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez

The owners of Rentar Plaza in Middle Village are eyeing modifications to their large Metropolitan Avenue shopping center, recently left with a gaping hole after two big-box retailers went out of business, in an effort to attract tenants and keep the center alive.

Vertical Industrial Park Associates, which owns the 66-26 Metropolitan Ave. center, described the precarious situation during a Jan. 9 Community Board 5 meeting, revealing that the recent demise of Toys “R” Us and Kmart has left them scrambling to find tenants willing to lease the combined 190,000 square feet of space left at the ground-floor of the location.

As a possible solution, the company is considering splitting the two empty spaces into three—a move they say also requires two truck loading bays to be added along Metropolitan Avenue for the convenience of future tenants.

The additional loading bays, planned near the eastern corner of the Metropolitan Avenue building, will require three trees within a planter currently on site to be removed and replaced with a curb cut for truck access.

Curb cut and tree removal/planter plans for Rentar Plaza. The company wants to create a loading bay for two trucks where the trees, pictured in red, are situated. (via Prime Engineering)

But the removal of the trees and planter, which are on public property, also needs Department of Transportation approvals and community board review before.

Felice Bassin, one of the owners of Rentar Plaza, told Community Board 5 during last week’s meeting that the modifications are necessary to respond to today’s changing retail and commercial landscape.

The 1.5 million square foot complex, built in 1972 and currently home to several tenants including BJ’s and Raymour & Flanigan, saw Kmart occupy a 145,000 square foot space before closing in 2018. Toys “R” Us, meanwhile, had taken up 45,000 square feet.

“I can tell you that there isn’t one tenant that will take 145,000 [square] feet today,” Bassin said. “They just don’t take that size store.”

Bassin referred to Target as an example, which leases up to 60,000 square feet at most.

Felice Bassin, co-owner of Rentar Plaxa, at the microphone discussing plans for the site during the Jan. 9 Community Board 5 meeting. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

While tentative plans call for the empty Rentar Plaza spaces to be divided up, Bassin said the smaller spaces may still prove too large for retail tenants to lease out.

“It’s very possible that it’s not going to be retail,” she said of future tenants, adding that no leases have been signed yet. “It’s possible that it can be a logistics warehouse or logistics warehouses, which is the way things are going today.”

But whichever line of business fills the space would still require the additional loading bays, the Rentar Plaza co-owner said.

“It’s a convenience to the future tenants to have a loading dock in their tenant space,” said Jaclyn Peranteau of Prime Engineering, which drew up the new loading bay plans for the site.

Board members, however, took issue with the project for two main reasons—what the additional loading docks would mean for traffic on Metropolitan Avenue, and the apparent lack of time the board had to review the application.

While there are some loading docks on the avenue, a wall separates the existing bays from the roadway. The new project, however, calls for any trucks occupying the proposed loading bays to back into them from Metropolitan Avenue, which could halt traffic in the process.

Additionally, while the materials for the project were received by the board last month, the application was first heard during the Jan. 9 meeting, and required a vote by the next day.

“You’re asking us now, tonight, to put an answer on this thing that we’re going to live with for the next 40 years,” said Paul Kerzner, a board member.

But Bassin said that the timing came at the hands of the Department of Transportation and their schedule, and was not a decision made by the company. She added that tenants can agree to have trucks come in at certain low-traffic hours–stipulations commonly worked into leases.

The board ultimately unanimously voted against the project on the grounds of the lack of review time, and requested another 35 days to review the application, noting that it is willing to work with the developer on a plan that fits everyone’s needs.

It is unclear if the Rentar Plaza owners will be given more time to go over the application with the board, or if the DOT will proceed with a decision after the Jan. 9 recommendation.

The Rentar Plaza entrance off 65th Lane, pictured in September (NYC ZoLa)

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19 Comments

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Anne

Companies and unions pay DiBlasio under the table to keep Wal-Mart out. The political corruption is disgraceful.

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Six

Enough with the food , we don’t need a whole foods just take the same bus a little further and go to trader Joe’s instead. we need a department store like Target i feel that is the best choice for everyone around here it offers a little of everything.

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AG

The City has blocked Walmart from coming into the area. And while a walmart is good for the customer it would lead to alot of mom and pops on metro and myrtle closing and I’m not sure if that is ideal. I would love to see a Whole Foods which I think everyone in queens could benefit from. They are different from Trader Joes and have alot to offer without I believe hurting the other food stores due to the pricing difference. Target is steps away in rego park and doesn’t make sense. This mall really needs a way to connect all the stores so they can pull traffic from each other. The esclator was horrible and I hated going there for just that reason. Hopefully they can get it rented but with so many store fronts empty in queens who knows.

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Worried

I am against the additional loading bays because Christ The King, the cemetaries, and the M train. I feel, despite the possibility of of low traffic hour loading being written into leases (which is not guaranteed for future tenants) it will still I crease traffic congestion, but more importantly it will add several tractor trailer trucks to.a mostly residential neighborhood, and a section of road/sidewak that is often walked or cycled by children.

I would not be opposed to a Wal-Mart or Target. I would be opposed to an Amazon distribution center.

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Francis Duffy

It would be nice if they make a location more wheelchair accessible. Very difficult to go from one level to the next. It is very dangerous for wheelchair to down that steep hill.

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Joey

Would love a Walmart or a Target. Please no restaurants and absolutely no trucking area. We don’t need that there, we lack a big dept store and we have a school near by.

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Peter

there plan was to put warehouses there from the beginning there straight out lying.theycompany in the middle of the building wants the spot refrigerator air conditioner company.WE NEED STORES ITS TO CONGESTED OVER THERE ALREADY HIGHSCHOOL SAFETY

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V

Yes there is, but its small and crowded…. parking there is also terrible… this would be a perfect location for them

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