With T.J. Maxx, Century 21 and Modell’s Sporting Goods being the latest department stores to close down in the 86th Street area, many locals fear that the shopping district that they’ve frequented for decades may never be the same.
Patrick Condren, executive director of the 86th Street Business Improvement District (BID), told this paper that although the COVID-19 pandemic has hit every shopping district hard, he expects a bounce-back.
“The 86th Street BID has been for many years and will continue to be in our estimation a mecca for the nationals,” Condren said. “It’s our understanding, without giving names, that there are a tremendous number of them simply waiting for the next step in the Century 21 and TJ Maxx situation. They make for prime retail space available.”
Condren added that, despite the struggles businesses have endured, some of the stores in the 86th Street BID have actually had a good year and he’s optimistic about new stores opening in the area this year.
“Without names mentioned, we know there are a lot of nationals looking right now,” he said. “I can assure you we are aware that there is more activity at observing and looking to pounce on the available large spaces than there has been in here.”
Despite rumors of certain store openings, Condren said that it’s outside of his understanding of who, what, when and where.
He did acknowledge that he’s heard concern and sadness from locals that some Bay Ridge staples have closed, especially Century 21.
“We don’t know exactly what is going to happen but we are optimistic and believe that the spaces will be filled by retail presence that is going to make most people happy in the neighborhood,” Condren said
Due to the area’s large population, history and desire to shop, he believes brighter days are ahead.
“The particular demographics we have here are representative of the frontline workers, the teachers, the cashiers from different places,” he said. “We have a good, stable middle class at this business end of Brooklyn. We’re optimistic. It’s a tough time right now but, truth be told, it’s busy out there. There are long lines at lots of places.
“The foundation goes back to 104 years ago when the local Brooklyn Manhattan Transit opened up on the corner,” he said. “People got off, and for these 104 years going to 86th is going shopping. It has been since after World War II. It’s always been a shopping district. It’s remarkable.”