Empty Caldor building may host many retailers

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Businesses will soon come to the empty Caldor building on Roosevelt Avenue in downtown Flushing, but the property will most likely be split up into several businesses, a leasing agent for the property said.

“We have several proposals to subdivide the property,” said David Rosenberg, a leasing agent for Robert K. Futterman and Associates LLC, which handles the Caldor property. “They are major chains looking for various areas of space.”

The Vornado Realty Trust currently leases the property, which fronts Roosevelt Avenue between Union and Main Streets, from the estate of Saul Goldman, a member of a Manhattan family that has extensive real estate throughout the city. Futterman acts as a leasing agent for Vornado, which has 27 years left on its lease.

Caldor closed for business in 1999 when the company went bankrupt. The demise of Caldor followed the 1997 closing of Woolworth’s on the corner of Roosevelt and Main Street, leaving Stern’s as the only major department store in the area.

But Flushing seems to be in the midst of a recovery. Old Navy moved into the Woolworth’s site in September, Macy’s has replaced Stern’s and the Flushing Mall development, bordered by 37th Avenue, 39th Avenue, Prince Street and College Point Boulevard, is set to open later this month.

According to Rosenberg, the Caldor property has 165,000 square feet of space. He said there are four to five prospective tenants looking at various areas of space ranging in size from 5,000 to 90,000 square feet.

He would not reveal the name of any of the prospective tenants, but he said a deal would probably be reached in the upcoming months and the property should be open for business in 12 to 18 months.

“The horizon definitely looks pretty,” he said.

Many Flushing business leaders said one tenant was preferable to several but thought it was more important to have business return to the property.

“Obviously, we would prefer one quality store,” said Jack Hogan, co-president of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Flushing Business Association. “But, hey, anything is better than an empty building.”

“One investment is better than six,” said Fred Fu, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association. “But if it can create jobs, it’s good. The economy is too slow, and we want the economy to return back to normal.”

Rosenberg acknowledged that several businesses in the Caldor location could create complications.

“The minute you go in and start chopping it up into several tenants, you have more issues: vertical transportation, fire egress, loading. All of the sudden it gets much more complicated relative to the transactions.”

Wellington Chen, consultant for TDC and a board member of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said it was important that the location open for business as soon as possible.

“It’s one of the things that is confronting us since Sept. 11,” he said. “The retail climate is so hard right now. If there’s something we need and we’re deferring it, we should do it now. I guess that’s the patriotic thing to do.”

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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