Rehab for shopping center . . . and Far Rock

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Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska sees shopping center as focus of revitalization.

Construction crews are hard at work at the Far Rockaway Shopping Center, marking the first major rehabilitation of the aging retail strip in decades.

The Mott Ave. center — marked by the fading yet iconic blue sign — has sat mostly dormant for more than a decade.

A new Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins is planned for one vacant site, and owner Rita Stark said she is negotiating for a new tenant to move into a 10,000-square foot space.

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“Until this shopping center is mostly filled with stores, the rest of the downtown Far Rockaway shopping area is going to struggle,” said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of Community Board 14. “We see it as the linchpin of the beginning of economic revitalization in Far Rockaway.”

“Until this shopping center is mostly filled with stores, the rest of the downtown Far Rockaway shopping area is going to struggle,” said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of Community Board 14.

Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

“Until this shopping center is mostly filled with stores, the rest of the downtown Far Rockaway shopping area is going to struggle,” said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager of Community Board 14.

The vast strip mall is vacant, save for an aging Thriftway drug store, a dry cleaners and supermarket.

In 2012, a new operator transformed the outdated supermarket into a bright, expanded Food Dynasty with a $ 2 million renovation.

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The center management is now keeping vigilant watch over the parking lot, once a magnet for homeless people and littered with junked cars. Shuttered storefronts have been removed, and sidewalks were roped off.

Still, officials — who have tangled with Stark for years — are keeping their hopes in check.

The vast strip mall is vacant, save for an aging Thriftway drug store, a dry cleaners and supermarket.

Julia Xanthos/New York Daily News

The vast strip mall is vacant, save for an aging Thriftway drug store, a dry cleaners and supermarket.

Stark, who has vast real estate holdings in Queens, has historically been reluctant to sell or maintain her properties.

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City Councilman Donovan Richards said he spoke directly with Stark about the latest developments.

“This is a significant step forward,” said Richards (D-Laurelton). “I want to see a thriving mall again. With unemployment as high as it is, we need as many jobs as possible in Rockaway.”

Gaska said the city should step in to help with the redevelopment, as it has done in downtown Jamaica.

“In other areas of Queens, the city has put in hundreds of millions of dollars; why not the downtown Far Rockaway shopping area?” Gaska said. “We’ve never really gotten a good answer. We are hoping with the new mayor, they will look at economic development down at this end.”

lcolangelo@nydailynews.com


Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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