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BJ’s targets Bensonhurst

A 200,000-square-foot, $150 million shopping center – thecenterpiece of which would likely be a BJ’s Wholesale Club – isslated to join Ceasar’s Bay Shopping Center on the southernBrooklyn waterfront if all goes according to the developer’splan.

The developer, Thor Equities, LLC, has submitted an applicationto rezone the site – at 1752 Shore Parkway – from its current M3-1industrial zoning designation to an M1-1 manufacturing designation.The request is currently under consideration through the UniformLand Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a mandated procedure whichincludes community input, and recommendations from the BoroughPresident and the Department of City Planning before the CityCouncil votes on the proposal.

The project, dubbed Shore Parkway by developer Thor Equities,LLC, would also feature a restaurant or other concession, athree-level, 690-space garage, and 2.5 acres of publicly accessibleparkland along the waterfront.

So far, they’ve gotten a pretty warm reception, in directcontrast to the response Thor and its Bensonhurst-born CEO andchairman, Joseph Sitt, garnered from the city administration overhow to revitalize Coney Island. If the zoning request is approved,construction wouldn’t start for another year or two at least.

At the May meeting of Community Board 11, members voted tosupport the land use proposal after a brief debate in which onlyone person spoke out against it.

Besides what’s there right now, [there is] the shopping center,a car place and the people that took over Nellie Bly (now known asAdventurer’s Amusement Park), said Stanley Roher, a CB 11 memberand the former president of the Bensonhurst Board of Trade. Everykind of congestion you could possibly have is in that area. It is ahaven for pollution and everything else that goes along withit.

To him, a big box store would draw foot and car traffic awayfrom local commercial strips, hurting small business in theprocess.

My concern [is] with the people who have stores on the street,Roher said.

To everyone else on the board, however, these concerns areoutweighed by the allure of jobs and expanded visibility within thegreater Brooklyn area as a shopping destination.

This is a retail use there, near Ceasar’s Bay, with potentialto provide over 250,000 jobs, said CB 11 District Manager MarneeElias-Pavia. Traffic’s traffic, [but] you can use that site now.[Right now], we have buses parking there.

The site currently serves as a rest stop for hundreds of schoolbuses used by Atlantic Express Transportation Corp. and isaccessible only by a service road off of the Belt Parkway. For anylarge-scale development to occur there, the road would have to bemodified in some way to accommodate increased traffic.

During a borough hall hearing, Brooklyn Borough President MartyMarkowitz questioned Shore Parkway Project Manager Ethan Goodmanabout the pros and cons of the project’s impact.

Goodman said that if approved, priority would be given to localcontractors for construction.

As for the potential increase in traffic and congestion, andwhether it would be possible to work with the Department ofTransportation now to prepare for changes, Goodman said yes, butthat Thor has no plans to enlarge the road. Instead, he said thatThor would work with the city to restripe the road and add turnlanes and signals to direct traffic.

The next step is for Markowitz to make his recommendation.

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