Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vornado Wants to Expand Rego Center by Joe Anuto -

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The developers who built the Rego Park Center are proposing to build another shopping center across the street that would include housing and a school. Photo by Christina Santucci

The developer of a large Rego Park shopping center is planning to expand its footprint in the neighborhood.

Vornado Realty Trust has proposed to build a multiuse facility across the street from its previous addition to the area, Rego Center, on the corner of Horace Harding and Junction boulevards, according to members of Community Board 6.

But Frank Gulluscio, the CB 6 district manager, said the discussions with the developer did not get specific.

“Their discussion with us was preliminary,” said Gulluscio. “They didn’t present plans.”

The site is currently a vacant lot, which many large trucks use for parking. But those days — or rather years — are numbered.

The company is not planning on breaking ground for at least four to five years, Gulluscio added. In the meantime, it will work with the board and local officials to assess potential problems like traffic and parking.

“The bottom line is how is this going to affect the quality of life of people who work and travel around there,” Gulluscio said.

The new facility will include three floors of retail stores, residential housing and even a public school.

“The borough president wanted them to put in a school,” he added.

But before the school could be built, the city Department of Education would have to work with the developers to ensure the facility fits within certain parameters set by the city School Construction Authority.

The school would also need to be included in the department’s five-year capital plan, a document that outlines where education funds will be distributed.

The proposed school is not included in the current plan, which expires in 2014.

The plan also calls for residential areas, but Vornado never built the apartment complexes that were planned for its other shopping mecca, Rego Center.

Gulluscio said that the lack of housing was due to the recession.

“The footprint is still there. If the economy turns around tomorrow, then they’re going to build that complex,” he said.

Vornado already owns the vacant lot where the structure is proposed and does not need the board’s blessing to begin breaking ground.

When the Rego Center was completed earlier this year, members of the community took two disparate positions: Many were happy to have more jobs in the area, but others criticized the center for bringing traffic as well.

Gulluscio said that both consequences were important to consider.

“I’m always excited about jobs and expanding,” Gulluscio said. “But traffic patterns and bus routes between Queens Center Mall and Rego Park have to be done correctly.”