Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thor Gives BJs to Brooklyn

It now appears as if Joe Sitt is looking to have BJs Warehouse Clubs proliferate all over Brooklyn-with the NY Post reporting that his company, Thor Equities, is looking at a second location in Red Hook for the giant box store: "The Red Hook waterfront that some residents complain is already starting to resemble a strip mall - with Ikea and Fairway now firmly rooted - is gonna get another big-box retail tenant. Sources said today that they expect developer Joe Sitt to convert the former Revere Sugar Factory site he owns into a big national chain store."

This would be the third potential Brooklyn site for BJs-the first being off of Shore Parkway, and the second on the site of the old Key Food Warehouse. It won't be easy to attain this, however, not with the existing traffic issues that are already impacting Red Hook's waterfront. This isn't sitting well with the community: "John McGettrick, co-chair of the Red Hook Civic Alliance, said the neighborhood just can't handle more traffic. He said that besides lacking subway service, Red Hook doesn't have adequate roads and parking to handle IKEA – let alone another big retail chain next to it. "It's just another inappropriate use of waterfront property," he said."

The store would need to obtain a zoning permit in order to occupy the proposed site: "Sitt would need to get a zoning change through the city's land use review process because the retail business he plans to bring would take up more than 10,000 square feet in space." This will not be an easy task-particularly because of not only the traffic issue, but the fact that the store doesn't accept food stamps and Red Hook is a poor community.

There's more on this from the Brooklyn Paper: "More warehouse-sized retail stores like BJ’s could be tough to swallow for Red Hook residents, many of whom bitterly opposed the Ikea, though its impact has not caused the apocalypse some predicted. There’s more traffic, especially on weekends, but there have been few complaints." Wait, as we have pointed out, till they see just what kind of traffic a BJs generates.

Here's what we have found from other similar BJs stores: The BJ’s traffic analysis reports average weekday volumes of 6,223 and average Saturday volumes of 7,608 vehicles per day (parked vehicles only, no trucks, no-dropoffs). Which leads us to Marty Markowitz's comments in the Post: ""Red Hook - and Brooklyn - are open for business, but while welcoming major retailers to our borough could bring economic vitality and much-needed jobs to previously under-served and underutilized areas, we must also be sure to 'grow smart' and preserve a neighborhood's character," Borough President Marty Markowitz said."

This would include, we assume, the preservation of the local supermarkets that Marty has championed. Something will have to give in all of this-proliferating BJs and supermarket preservation is a contradiction in terms.