Kmart piping project set for December completion

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A heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning plant is being installed which will draw water from the main supply pipe under 188th Street to supply the nearby Kmart and Cineplex theater, said officials of Federal Realty, the developer.

Previously, the complex was supplied by a residential boiler/chiller plant owned by the Insignia Group, which supplies the nearby Fresh Meadows Housing complex, but its usage by the commercial complex was temporary.

"Insignia intended to upgrade the system and did, but as part of their planning, their costs [to Federal Realty] were going to be exorbitantly high for us," said Frank Ward, a general manager for Federal Realty.

Ward said the water supply from Insignia was cut off Dec. 21, 1999, as part of an agreement between the two companies.

In the meantime, the commercial center has been supplied by a temporary boiler in the complex's parking lot.

Federal Realty, which has offices in the Kmart shopping complex on 190th Street, has been installing hot and cold water lines for heating and air conditioning for the shopping center, which is near the Fresh Meadows Housing Complex, since early this year, according to Ed McLaughlin, director of redevelopment and property management. Federal Realty owns the Kmart shopping complex as well as the complex on the other side of 188th Street.

"It was really a series of small projects that made up the total job, the critical part being the running of water lines, " he said. "We anticipate that by early December we will be done."

"When we bought the Kmart complex, we always knew there was a possibility we would have to build our own heating/cooling plant and run our own lines," McLaughlin said.

The work extends from the sidewalk about 15 feet onto the east side of northbound 188th Street, next to the traffic circle, and cuts off about the same amount of space from the center of the west side of the circle, constricting southbound traffic around the other side. City buses are just able to make it through the circle, but during morning rush hours, there is always traffic congestion, residents said.

Federal Realty has replaced 18 feet of a 20-inch-diameter city water main pipe directly under the street as part of the project. Pipes run into the nearby building on the west side of 188th, which houses two boilers and two 700-ton water chillers.

"Now we will be in direct control of what we provide," Ward said. "We can give better quality of service to the businesses in the complex."

Wooden construction siding on the sidewalk covers the view of nearby businesses like Applebee's at 61-48 188 St. and Boston Market at 61-45 188 St., on the other side of the two-way street before the circle.

"It's a little bit inconvenient, but they have to do what they have to do," said Ardie Shahgholi, manager of Boston Market. "Some customers say, 'We thought you were closed, because you look boarded up.'"

Ward said the first traffic barriers were put up in early October.

"We anticipate street restoration by Nov. 22. It should take two weeks. Now, we are ahead of the game," he said, adding that although all projections are based on good weather, "our barricades should be down way before Thanksgiving in time for the Christmas holiday season."

Jim Gallagher, a Community Board 8 member who lives in Fresh Meadows, said a dangerous situation exists because many motorists who approach the 188th Street circle and see the construction going on often make U-turns to avoid traffic tie-ups.

"I have seen two people almost get run over," he said. "You have to go almost a mile out of your way if you want to get from one side of 64th Avenue to the other without going through 188th Street."

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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