More than three dozen auto repair shops being pushed out of a blighted area in Queens are headed to the Bronx.
The cooperative representing some 36 oor so auto repair shops and junk yards at Willets Point signed a lease on Friday, March 7 to move into an 84,000-square-foot space at 1080 Leggett Ave. in Hunts Point.
The businesses, in the northern end Flushing Meadows Corona Park near Citifield Stadium for years, are being pushed out of the blighted area to make room for a $3 billion development of a new neighborhood with a megamall.
The story was first reported Monday, March 10 by the Times Ledger, a sister weekly of the Bronx Times Reporter. Both papers are part of the Community Newspaper Group local weekly chain.
The move to Hunts Point has raised a number of issues with the local community board, including environmental and financial ones.
Rafael Salamanca Jr., district manager for local Community Board 2, said that while the board is not directly involved in the process, there are some issues it has with the move.
“We’ve met with owners and their representatives and there are a few concerns: environmental; the existing car repair shops in Hunts Point and how the move will affect them financially; the over-saturation already here, and the potential traffic congestion.”
He said the traffic issue is a key one, since the new facility’s location at Garrison and Leggett avenues “is on the main truck route in and out of the Hunts Point Market.”
While the city’s Economic Development Corp. is the agency involved in the move, Salamanca said the board is still working with the owners “to ensure they will be meeting all city and state regulations.”
Times Ledger reporter Alex Robinson wrote that the group’s organizers have been closing in on signing a lease on the property for a couple months after negotiations with the landlord stalled over fixing the facility’s bathrooms.
The move will also have to wait a few months, he wrote, since the new space inside part of a 144,000-square-foot warehouse, now needs to be divided for each business.
The group will be eligible to receive $2 million in relocation funds from the city’s Economic Development Corporation for the move, which organizers said they will use on a security deposit and rent.
The Times Ledger reported that many of the Sunshine Co-op’s members have been without properties to conduct their business since the end of January when they accepted deals worth six months’ rent from the city to vacate their businesses. Some accepted payments worth 12 months’ rent to leave the Iron Triangle by the end of November.
It quoted Marco Neira, one of the group’s organizers, saying that many of the business owners have been out on the street fixing cars, trying to make a living, as they wait to move into the new location, according
“They’re on the streets trying to survive. Everybody has a family so they have to create an income,” he said. “With this, we can have the hope and in two or three months we can start doing business again.”