2017-05-25 / Other News

Reviving “The L”

By Jason Linetsky

Ever since the Canarsie movie theater, which was located at 9310 Avenue L, closed in 2004, the Avenue L shopping strip has declined greatly in popularity, according to business owners in the area. The Avenue L Merchants Association, along with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, 69th Precinct, 69th Precinct Clergy Council and community leaders met on Wednesday, May 17th to discuss ways to give the shopping strip a rebirth.

Merchants Association President Emily James, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President and COO Rick Russo led the large group, which included Havin’ A Party’s Larry Scott, Beraca Baptist Church’s Mullery Jean-Pierre and Sony Pierre, 69th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Eton White, Brooklyn Real Property’s Alex Marra, Jr. and Chase Bank’s Senior Vice President Matthew Garvey.

The movie theater was the focal point of discussion with ideas on how to convert the dilapidated property into a new centerpiece of the shopping district. Last year, ideas were proposed to make the building into a mini-mall with small artisan and health businesses renting spaces. This year, news came of a pending foreclosure and subsequent auction of the property. However, due to the current state of disrepair and debts owed, it may not be feasible for a new owner to maintain the building. Tearing it down and building a brand new structure may be the future for the once-bustling theater. Other proposals included a mixed-use building with retail storefronts on street level and condos above, or an apartment building developed under the city’s Affordable Housing Act.

The building at 9525 Avenue L, once occupied by a Mandee store and a Strauss Auto Parts store, is currently home to Cablevision Systems Corporation and News 12 Brooklyn. The building bears no signs nor hints of being occupied. Deserted vehicles in the parking lot and a lone logo on the glass doors add to the bleak feeling of the district.

Many owners lamented about the number of complaints from customers about not finding parking spaces and the lack of parking, forcing the customer to either not shop along the avenue or to double park. It was suggested that having access to Cablevision’s parking lot would greatly relieve traffic congestion.

Some storefronts have become eyesores along the strip, including churches that utilize retail spaces. James expressed the need to meet with the pastors of the churches along Avenue L from Rockaway Parkway to Remsen Avenue to discuss methods to maintain “The L.” He was also concerned over the increase in litter following religious services, poor snow removal from walkways and increased traffic congestion during busy church services and events. Officer White offered to schedule a meeting between business owners and clergy along the strip while Pierre and Jean-Pierre offered to participate in this meeting as representatives of the precinct’s Clergy Council.

The old idea of bus routes running through “The L” was revisited. James suggested having the B42 bus re-routed. His proposal would have the bus run from Rockaway Parkway station to Rockaway Parkway and Avenue L, then along Avenue L to Remsen Avenue, and back to Rockaway Parkway via Avenue M. Once back on Rockaway Parkway, the bus would continue to the current final stop at Canarsie Pier.

Another proposal has the B103 Downtown Brooklyn-bound bus running from the Breukelen Houses to East 105th Street and Avenue L, then along Avenue L to East 80th Street before turning back onto its original East 80th Street route. The Canarsie-bound B103 route would remain unchanged.

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