The site where six Westchester Square stores burned down last yeer is getting a new life.
Impatient community and business leaders have referred to 123-29 Westchester Square, a vacant parcel of land that once contained thriving retail businesses prior to a March 2009 fire, as a “hole in the ground.”
Planswere filed by the building’s owner, Dorado Realty Group, with the Department of Buildings calling for the construction of 10,000 square-feet of retail space at that location. An additional 8,000 square-feet of basement storage space is also included.
The Bronx office of the DOB is currently studying the proposal to see if plans comply with zoning regulations, according to spokeswoman Ryan Fitzgibbon.
Merchant John Bonizio, of Metro Optics at 25 Westchester Square, said that he is confident the proposal put forth by the owner of the property would comply.
“The plans are calling for the same type of building that was there before the fire, so I don’t think that there would be a problem with zoning,” Bonizio said. “A lot of things are starting to fall into place and the reconstruction at that site is part of it.”
Westchester Square Merchant association president Greg Perry said that a major franchise restaurant had been looking to expand at the site, but it may not be finalized. He said lack of on-site parking was the snag that held up the restaurant development.
“We had made an effort to get one of the existing Westchester Square restaurants into that spot,” Perry said. “There was also some interest from a major franchise restaurant.”
But Perry said it didn’t work out because the landlord and the franchise could not come to an agreement in reference to parking space allotment. “We are still working to find a good partnership for this site,” he said.
Joe Regina, secretary for the Westchester Square Merchants Association, said that whether it is a chain restaurant or a group of stores similar to the ones that were destroyed, he believes any development at this point would be positive.
“It is better than having that big hole in the ground,” Regina said. “When the fire occurred and we lost all of those businesses, we were hoping it would have been redeveloped a lot sooner. It is good to hear that the developer is starting to work on plans for the site.”
The fire gutted the 21 Latin Lounge, On the Square Flower Shop, Osvaldo Barber Shop, Rose Nail Salon, Peking House Chinese Restaurant, and National Restaurant.