Displaced Queens businesses to find home in Bronx

Displaced Queens businesses to find home in Bronx
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Queens businesses being displaced by an upcoming project will soon find a new home here in the Bronx.

Construction of a new south Bronx space for the displaced businesses of the Sunrise Cooperative, a group of Willets Point, Queens auto shop owners, is halfway complete as the city looks to evict the remaining businesses that stand in the way of the first phase of a sprawling Queens redevelopment project.

This past July, an appellate court ruled the Willets West mega-mall, part of the Queens Development Group’s $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point, could not proceed without state legislative approval since it would be partially constructed on public parkland.

The project is designed to transform the area into a neighborhood with commercial, retail and residential space.

Due to a court-ordered agreement, the city Economic Development Corporation was to pay $4.8 million and the Queens Development Group $960,000 for the group’s relocation and renovation of Sunrise Coop’s new facility.

Sunrise Coop was originally expected to contribute $143,000 and leave the site by June 1, 2015.

However, construction on the group’s new space at 1080 Leggett Avenue in Hunts Point, which will have 45 shops, was delayed because the group had not filed the necessary permit.

Marco Neira, Sunrise Coop’s president, said more than 20 shops have now been constructed in the new location and the ramps are ready, with construction due to be complete by December or the end of February at the latest.

“We have a lot of things done,” he said.

Most of the Sunrise Coop auto shop owners are still working in the Willets Point area with some taking customers in Corona, Queens, Neira said.

A spokesman for the Department of Buildings said the Bronx space has four active work permits involving plumbing, the installation of 14 new ceiling mounted gas furnaces and three new gas meters, interior renovation of erected two concrete block walls, new fencing and gates.

Marlene Cintron, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation president, said the corporation met with Sunrise Coop more than a year ago and again last summer but she has not heard from the group recently.

“I can’t say that we’ve had a lot of dealings with them. They’ve basically been dealing with this with their consultants and attorneys.”

She said Sunrise may not feel the need to be in contact with her organization.

“I don’t know if they consider themselves Bronx stakeholders at this point,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development said the court decision does not affect the Sunrise Cooperative, noting that the auto shops already had left the phase one site.

There are several businesses left that belong in phase one of the development that are not part of the Sunrise Cooperative are facing eviction by the city.

“The hope is that this project will compliment the growth our district is experiencing,” said Dr. Ian Amritt, Community Board 2 chairman. “Initially, our concerns about this project were in regards to individuals’ health and safety, pollution and traffic. Going beyond those concerns was that these new businesses would take work away from our local businesses, however, we realized these new businesses already have established reputations and loyal customers which will bring in more business to the Bronx. We are a very welcoming community, but also a very alert one.”

Dr. Amritt added CB 2’s Environmental Committee is closely monitoring this project and will continue working with Sunrise who has been very receptive.

Additional reporting contributed by Robert Wirsing.