As community leaders in Hunts Point gear up for a new development opening later this year, they are trying to ward off potential problems.
The building of ‘The Crossing’ shopping center at Southern Boulevard and Hunts Point Avenue was announced in March 2014, and is expected to be completed later this year.
The shopping center, on the site of a former gas station, is a two-level 45,000 square foot facility developed by the Prusik Group.
It will feature the borough’s second Red Lobster, a 312-seat sit-down restaurant, in addition to a McDonalds and Deals discount store. Other tenants have not yet been announced.
The community is anticipating an influx of shoppers in the neighborhood as the restaurant draws people, and other local businesses hope the wealth will spread, said Southern Boulevard Business Improvement District director Medina Sediq.
The new shopping center could be part of a development trend, said Community Board 2 district manager Rafael Salamanca, with a nearby Metro-North train station planned in the coming years.
“I see economic growth,” said Salamanca.
The community is particularly looking forward to the arrival of Red Lobster.
“It’s great to have a sit-down restaurant, we really don’t have that here,” said Salamanca “It’ll bring a different taste to the neighborhood.”
The community is also anticipating the new job opportunities, since the restaurant agreed to interview locals for the positions before anyone else.
“It’s absolutely positive,” said Sediq about the development.
Yet the BID is concerned about the shopping center’s lack of parking provisions.
The initial project, which featured space for big-box retailers as well as housing, included a lot, but when the project was significantly downsized last year the parking plans disappeared as well.
The Prusik Group did not return requests for comment.
Sediq worries the lack of parking will impact the success of Red Lobster.
“If I came onto Southern Boulevard and couldn’t find parking, I would leave,” said Sediq. “They may lose potential customers.”
Salamanca said the influx of diners and shoppers could cause issues with both traffic congestion and parking.
“I could see parking being a little more difficult, “ he said.
But the BID and the community board are being proactive. They are discussing options to limit the potential impact, said Salamanca, one of which is involves working with a nearby private lot to market their services to Red Lobster customers.
“There are more pros than cons at this point,” said Salamanca. “We’re really excited this development is being built.”