It appears that T.G.I. Fridays will have company when it opens at 1700-1800 E. Gun Hill Road, as Duane Reade has also broken ground on a retail store in the parking lot of the shopping center.
The mall is reeling from the closure of Circuit City, which opened amid much fanfare in August, only to close on December 21 due to the economic crisis gripping the nation.
While Circuit City is gone, Community Board 11 vice-chairman Vinny Prezioso said that the vacant store affords an opportunity for the company that owns the mall – Vornado Realty Trust – to revisit the idea of bringing another supermarket to the location which formerly housed an A&P.
“Councilman Jimmy Vacca and I had a conference call with a Vornado representative, and he said that they are entertaining the idea of a supermarket coming back to this shopping center,” Prezioso said. “It is a long shot. If they don’t want this property to stay vacant, the may rent to a supermarket or some other store that sells food.”
Supermarkets haven’t rented any space in the area because Vornado and other landlords are asking for rents that make it cost prohibitive for it to achieve profitability. However with the economy in a downward spiral, there may be pressure to reduce the per square foot asking price which could in turn attract a national supermarket.
Prezioso said that the community has been crying out for a new supermarket ever since the Met Foods on the corner of Mace Avenue and Eastchester Road closed last summer. The Duane Reade is being constructed along the property line of the shopping mall that straddles E. Gun Hill Road.
“The Duane Reade will be about 3,500 square feet,” Prezioso said. “In addition, Petco has backed out of coming into the shopping center, but all of the other businesses – Ridgewood Savings Bank, Eastern Wok Buffet, and Dunkin’ Donuts – are staying.”
“Vornado is examining the feasibility of a supermarket in the mall, and we wish them success,” said Vacca. Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta also said he felt it is the will of the people to have a supermarket in Pelham Gardens.
“We would still like to see a supermarket come to the shopping center,” Fratta said. “This is something the community really needs.”
A spokeswoman for Vornado Realty Trust declined comment on any of the future plans for the shopping center.