BY HELEN KLEIN & DENISE ROMANO
Construction is finally underway at the site of the new BJ’s Wholesale Club in Bensonhurst.
After ground was broken late last year, heavy equipment is now digging the foundation for Thor Equities’ Bay Center, where BJ’s will be the anchor tenant, at 1752 Shore Parkway, adjacent to Ceasar’s Bay Bazaar.
Priscilla Consolo, a Bensonhurst native and community activist, said that she is looking forward to the opening of the big box store.
“I am sure my parents are very excited. Usually they have to go to the one in Gateway and this will be much more convenient for them,” she said. “Obviously we are a little concerned about the traffic, since there aren’t many roads that connect to BJ’s because of the Belt Parkway.”
But Consolo also noted that the proposed Southwest Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station would be neighbors with BJ’s, which could lead to more traffic.
“That obviously will not be pleasant for shoppers to see or smell,” she contended. “It goes along with the argument that where they want to build the station is residential. It’s where people live, shop and play. That whole area around there is not suitable for garbage trucks to come down. That would definitely cause a lot of traffic.”
One way of coping with the additional traffic the big box store is expected to bring to the area could be changing the configuration of the roadway, said one local activist.
Noting that the Department of Transportation (DOT) had proposed adding access from Shore Parkway to the eastbound Belt Parkway at the center’s entrance, the source suggested making the stretch of Shore Parkway between the entrance and 26th Avenue two-way, and eliminating parking along that stretch, as a way of mitigating the effects of the additional traffic heading to and from the shopping center.
“We’re hoping the city will look seriously at that,” the source said.
The new shopping center in which the warehouse store will be housed went through extensive municipal review before being given a green light by the City Council back in September, 2011.
Bay Center is being constructed at a cost of approximately $250 million. Besides BJ’s, which will occupy 134,000 square feet, the 200,000-square-foot development will house commercial tenants on the center’s second floor. There will be parking for almost 700 cars in a two-story garage.
A total of 250 unionized trade, construction and planning jobs will be created by the project, according to Thor, whose CEO, Joseph Sitt, contended at the time the plans were approved, “This significant development along the Brooklyn waterfront will immediately create much needed good-paying jobs and provide low-cost goods to residents currently struggling in a tough economy.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment regarding the suggested traffic changes as this paper went to press. When asked to comment, Thor Equities referred this paper to BJ’s press office, which did not return repeated requests for comment by press time.