Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BJs Not Sitting Pretty in Brooklyn

Despite what most conventional wisdom thought, it appears that Joe Sitt may actually be going ahead with his quixotic plan to build a BJs off of the Belt Parkway in Bensonhurst. As Eliot Brown reports: "Joe Sitt, the landlord who battled with the Bloomberg administration at Coney Island, is coming back to city officials with a new request: He wants to put a big-box mall in South Brooklyn. Mr. Sitt’s Thor Equities is seeking to build a 214,000-square-foot mall highlighted by a BJ’s Wholesale Club, along with space for three other retail stores. The company has filed for a rezoning of the site, a peninsula off Shore Parkway in Bensonhurst. The current use: a bus parking lot."

This will not be a walk in the park for Mr. Sitt-not by any means. As we have already pointed out: "...Sitt has plans to build two BJs Warehouse Clubs on these locations-and the animosity between Sitt and the mayor's folks is nothing compared to the fight he'll have on his hands with the city council if he tries to site the box stores..."

That's because the UFCW's Local 1500 is poised to fight this tooth and nail; along with the RWDSU and local supermarket owners-particularly after the sleight-of-hand that allowed BJs to avoid ULURP at the Brooklyn Terminal Market. And we believe that Speaker Quinn will back up labor on this issue.

But what does the city's collusion over the promotion of box stores tell us about it's supermarket initiative? Are the two efforts in any way compatible. This question is particularly germane as the City Planning Commission is readying for a vote on the supermarket initiative on Wednesday. We anticipate considerable fireworks on both fronts when the controversies come before the city council.