Tuesday, February 28, 2006

They Paved Staten Island and Made it a Parking Lot

We’ve mentioned in the past that Staten Island traffic congestion is already nightmarish and that the road infrastructure, according to the SI Chamber of Commerce, is at or above capacity. We’ve also mentioned that the borough’s top officials have called for a “Marshall Plan” to fix the myriad traffic issues on the Island.

Despite this, developers are still pushing additional automobile-dependent projects. One such proposal is the NASCAR speedway that has drawn considerable opposition from a wide cross-section of Staten Islanders. Of course, the 80,000 fans coming during a race weekend worries people but there is another aspect of the racetrack plan that isn’t talked about as much but will have a profound impact on the maneuverability.

According to the SI Advance, our friends the Related Companies want to build a 620,000 sq. ft. mall, similar to their Gateway Estates in East New York, as part of the NASCAR project. Councilman McMahon is concerned:

The potential traffic impact of that kind of lineup has City Councilman Michael McMahon calling the retail center a "Trojan horse."

During a peak Saturday shopping hour, the developers expect more than 1,800 cars coming into the center, and another 1,500 leaving.

It's the element that's sort of been presented as a gift, and no one's really looked at it. And it may end up being a thing that has a very serious impact on traffic and quality of life," McMahon (D-North Shore) says.
Of course Related says everything is going to be fine:

But the developers downplay the possible burden, saying much of that traffic would be on the road anyway, heading to New Jersey's big stores.

They also contend the road improvements they'll put in place for raceday events -- including new on- and off-ramps on the Island's two expressways -- will be able to handle retail traffic.

On race weekends, the developers predict in their traffic plan, fewer customers will show up because they'll be deterred by "the unusual race day travel conditions."
This is typical developer pabulum and if Related’s Bronx Terminal Market traffic analysis is any indication, nothing the politically-connected company asserts should be trusted.

Wal-Mart and BJs

The other issue is whether Related is going to tenant this mall with a Wal-Mart or BJs. The latter is the most likely option considering the two companies’ close relationship and Related's push to add the non-union store to its South Bronx Gateway Center:

Based on Related's other retail projects, though, BJ's would be a good bet.

Related has included a BJ's in its in Brooklyn and College Point, Queens, retail centers, and it plans to build another at the site of the old Bronx Terminal Market.
We’ll keep you all updated.