Sept. 29, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Storefronts situated along a popular bridge in Kew Gardens are set for major upgrades and a new landlord, according to the MTA.
The agency is looking for a master tenant to repair and manage more than a dozen storefronts situated on the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge – which goes from Austin to Grenfell streets and runs over the Long Island Rail Road line.
The transit agency wants the new master tenant to renovate and manage 13 storefronts that sit atop the 100-year-old bridge.
The master tenant will be in charge of repairing the buildings and maintaining their upkeep for at least 25 years. It will also be responsible for managing and subleasing the retail spaces.
The MTA is accepting proposals from management companies that are qualified to be master tenants–with applications due by Dec. 15.
The agency said it is seeking a real estate firm that will be able to turn the commercial strip into a thriving business area.
“With this solicitation going out to the leading real estate companies in the country, the MTA is reaffirming its commitment to the Kew Gardens community,” MTA Construction and Development President Janno Lieber said in a statement Friday.
“This is a significant leasing opportunity, but it’s also an opportunity to play an indispensable role in a tight-knit community by managing and maintaining a set of properties that locals have many times described as a beloved community focal point,” Lieber said.
The buildings were constructed in the 1920s atop two concrete and steel platforms and line both sides of the bridge. They are located at 81-09 through 81-21 Lefferts Blvd. facing northwest and at 81-12 through 81-24 Lefferts Blvd. facing southeast.
The MTA said that nine of the storefronts are occupied and four remain vacant. Subleases on the occupied stores expired in March but the MTA said it has guaranteed tenants the right to stay through Dec. 31.
The MTA indicated in 2017 that it might demolish the entire bridge since it had structural issues at the time.
Local officials and residents mobilized and started a campaign to save the bridge arguing that it is a vital part of the neighborhood’s business district and has historical significance.
In 2018 the MTA invested $1 million to repair the bridge to make sure it was structurally sound. The funds did not go toward fixing the stores.
In July, Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal and State Sen. Leroy Comrie introduced legislation to prevent the buildings from being torn down or redesigned differently.
The lawmakers said that the bridge and the buildings need to be protected due to their historic architecture. The bill also aims to make sure the current tenants get the first right to return when the construction work is completed. The bill is still in committee stage.
The MTA will issue a formal request for proposals from potential master tenants on Friday, Oct. 16, with proposals due by Dec.15.
The properties are being offered by MTA Real Estate through its broker, CBRE.