New life for Bx. fire site

A space that formally housed 12 businesses on the corner of White Plains Road and Lydig Avenue will soon have 22,000 square feet of new, modern retail space. Photo courtesy of Riverdale Equities

A site ravaged by a five-alarm blaze that destroyed 12 businesses last year is going to get a new life, with 22,000 square-feet of new retail space planned for the location.

The property, at 2129 to 2139 White Plains Road at the corner of Lydig Avenue, is part of the heavily trafficked White Plains Road Business Improvement District. On February 4, 2008 at about 8 a.m. a fire erupted at the Super Laundromat, at 632 Lydig Avenue, burning until about 11:30 a.m, necessitating 200 firefighters.

Sopher Properties owns a number of properties on White Plains Road in the BID area, including this one, and now has plans to erect 11,000 square feet of street-level retail space along with a full basement of retail space.

“One of the former tenants, Sleepy’s Mattresses, has expressed interest in coming back,” said Jonathan Sopher, of Sopher Properties. “The basement floor would be a great space for a gym along the lines of Planet Fitness or a New York Sports Club because there is not a place to work-out nearby.”

Sopher said that he wanted to attract a triple A national chain to fill the space, similar to a Staples, Verizon Wireless and many of the new banks that are now calling the White Plains Road BID home. The basement will have high ceilings, and could even be used for a school.

“We would want to attract a chain store that is in keeping with what is going on with the re-gentrification of the street – with Staples, Verizon Wireless at the former site of Frishman’s and the new banks,” Sopher said.

Larry Prospect, the executive director of the White Plains Road BID, said that he is excited to hear that the Sopher, who owns several properties on the street, is reinvesting so heavily in the community.

“I think it is going to be tremendously important – certainly when you have new stores it generates a lot of excitement on the street,” Prospect said. “Not only is Sopher really enthusiastic, they are investing in the future of the street.”

Prospect said that many area residents stop and ask him about the future of the property. Sopher Properties, also known as Riverdale Equities, filed Department of Building permits related to the project on August 22, 2008. Construction is expected to commence on February 15.

“This fire was devastating for Sopher, the community and the tenants,” Sopher stated. “We have lost over a year’s worth of rent and were not fully insured for the building, demolition, excavation and reconstruction. Nonetheless, we must rebuild. We are excited to announce that we are finally ready to rebuild after going though all the necessary legal and architectural requirements.”

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