Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rego Center Debut Delayed Until February by Anna Gustafson -

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Rego Center is slated to open in February after being in the works for years, but some Community Board 6 members are worried the mall that will house such anchor stores as Costco, T.J. Maxx and Kohl’s will create heavy traffic congestion in the area, CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio and CB 6 President Joseph Hennessy said this week.

“The opening has been pushed back after the holidays to February,” Gulluscio said. “People are still concerned about the traffic patterns.”

Vornado Realty Trust in 2005 announced plans to develop a 6.6-acre site located directly behind the Rego Park Mall, which includes an Old Navy, a Sears and a Bed Bath & Beyond. The site is managed by Vornado but owned by Alexander’s Inc.

Rego Center comprises the entire block bounded by the Horace Harding service road, 97th Street, 62nd Drive and Junction Boulevard.

Initial groundbreaking on the site began in October 2006 and actual construction began in May 2007.

According to a Nov. 2 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the development will be a 600,000-square-foot shopping center on four levels and will include a parking deck with about 1,400 spaces. As of October, there had been 138,000 square feet leased to Costco, 134,000 square feet leased to Century 21 and 132,000 square feet leased to Kohl’s.

Gulluscio and Hennessy said Vornado officials told them T.J. Maxx had also signed a lease.

“We’re very concerned about the traffic situation,” Hennessy said. “We don’t feel it’s been addressed properly. There’s no entrance to the center at the 62nd Drive subway stop and the traffic is going to be emptying into 62nd Drive.”

Hennessy said board leaders are hoping to meet with Vornado officials as well as the city Department of Transportation to discuss ideas to mitigate the impact of traffic on the neighborhood.

The CB 6 chairman added that while board members believe Century 21, Kohl’s and Costco will be good stores, he is concerned Costco will “bring a different type of shopper than Home Depot would’ve brought.”

Vornado had originally planned for The Home Depot to occupy the area now leased by Costco, but the construction supply store pulled out of the development earlier this year, Hennessy said.

“With Costco, you’ll get more traffic,” Hennessy said. “Home Depot gets traffic early in the morning with the construction people and lighter traffic in the afternoon. I’ve seen the Costco in Long Island City and it gets crowded and people are inside longer because they’re buying things in bulk. They’re not in and out in 15 minutes.”