BJ’s is replacing the now-shuttered Stella D’oro factory in Kingsbridge, and it’s bringing hundreds of jobs to the Bronx.
“There were a lot of people that wanted the box. BJ’s was at the right place at the right time,” said Joseph Farkas, president of the Metropolitan Realty Associates, who bought the property for $18.5 million with the help of Angelo Gordon & Co. He provided a walking tour on Monday, April 9, of his new business venture on W. 237th Street that’s still in its embryonic stage. He also took a moment to dispel rumors that Petco and Bank of America will be coming to the new shopping center, a rumor that roused Farkas’ ire.
“The only tenant I have is BJ’s, that’s it,” said Farkas, not happy with other local media outlets publicizing what he called speculation.
What is not speculation is the number of jobs it’ll bring, which Farkas estimates to be about 325 full-time jobs.
The property is now in a demolition, scheduled to end May 7. Silk screens hang along the fence separating the property from the Major Deegan Expressway while large bulldozers stand at the ready. Sordoni Construction is the firm overseeing the project, which will create 500 construction jobs. Sordoni’s army of laborers will knock down the old Stella D’oro factory and its neighboring one-story buildings, dubbed the North Retail area, that sit directly across from the old factory. Those stores, eight in all, will be part of a strip-mall that will complement the 118,423 square foot BJ’s, its second in the Bronx. The other is located on the southwestern tip of the borough at the Gateway Center Mall. As for who will occupy the North Retail portion of the mall, Farkas made a point of saying he’s not sure.
“A lot of activity right now,” said Farkas.
Because of the lack of parking spaces, MRC has designed rooftop parking on both sides, with a total of 328 spots, free of charge. An additional 172 spots will be located on Putnam Avenue, between West 234th and West 236th streets. Shoppers will be able to access the mall via two entrances–West 237th Street and Broadway and West 238th Street and Putnam Avenue. The entrance to the latter has not been built yet.
Stella D’Oro opened its doors in Kingsbridge in 1932, creating a following for its brand of cookies. In August 2008, unionized workers went on strike for 11 months citing proposed pay and benefit cuts. In 2009, the factory closed and moved to Ashland, Ohio.
With Stella D’oro closed, a chapter in the Bronx history books ends, and a new one begins.