Times Newsweekly.com: A third mall in Rego Park?

The possibility of a third shopping center in Rego Park was the talk of Community Board 6’s Wednesday, Dec. 8 meeting at the Kew Gardens Community Center.

Chairperson Joseph Hennessy reported that Vornado Realty—which operates the new Rego Center mall on Junction Boulevard and 62nd Drive as well as an older mall adjacent to it—has approached local elected officials with very preliminary plans to construct another threefloor mixed-use space in a parking lot currently owned by Lost Battalion Hall at Junction Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway. Construction would ostensibly sbegin sometime in the second half of 2011.

The real estate firm is currently in negotiations with Lost Battalion Hall about a land swap deal, which must be approved by the state, Hennessy said. Vornado will have to ask Board 6 for a zoning variance before construction begins.

The space envisioned for the site would include a residential component, a school and three floors of retail (a multiplex was mentioned as a possibility).

According to District Manager Frank Gulluscio, Vornado executives have approached the offices of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Council Member Daniel Dromm to gauge reaction to the plan, which is so preliminary that no blueprints were available.

Hennessy reminded the crowd that Vornado originally promised a residential component would be built atop the Rego Center, only to backtrack when the economy tanked. In fact, Rego Center’s foundation, plumbling and electrical components are set up so that a residential tower can later be built atop the mall.

“We know the desire for housing,” said Hennessy. “It’s very scarce.”

He added that according to Vornado, the Rego Center mall has been rented out but not all the renters have occupied their spots at the shopping center.

Other news

Gulluscio, in his report, announced that the board has met with various lawmakers and city officials regarding repairs to the train trestle near the Metropolitan Avenue Schools Campus, which “structurally does not look sound” and may pose a hazard for students walking to and from the school.

“We’re going to keep on top of that,” he promised.

NY Sports Clubs on 69-47 Austin St. in Forest Hills was granted a 10- year permit to operate, and Theater Cafe, located at 106-03 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, was granted a renewal of their license for an unenclosed 18-table/36 seat outdoor eating area.

Lisa Spitzner of the American Lung Association and Matthew Ryder of Asian Americans for Equality both came to lobby Board 6’s support for City Council legislation that would ban smoking in public parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas.

Spitzner noted that city smoking rates have decreased over 23 percent between 2002 and 2009; currently, only 15 percent of New York adults smoke. She credited legislation and ad campaigns for the drop.

Queens, at 16 percent, has the lowest smoking rate, but “tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of disease and death, not only in New York but in the U.S,” Spitzner noted.

The bill is being finalized, said Spitzner; “enforcement is an issue they’re trying to figure out,” but will most likely be left to the Parks Department’s police force.

Community Board 6 will next meet on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at the Kew Gardens Community Center, located at 80-02 Queens Blvd.