Pathmark's lawyer notified Weprin's office late Tuesday night of the company's plans to end its pursuit to build on the location. Weprin's chief aide, Jack Friedman, said he knew it was unlikely that the store was going to be built, but he was surprised to hear from the store that it was pulling out.
"Oh, yeah, it was a surprise," said Friedman. "They spent a lot of money sending out the fliers."
Friedman was speaking of the flier campaign that Pathmark held to gauge support from the surrounding community. He said the fliers were misleading and the positive response from the community was not from the Fresh Meadows area, but areas such as Bayside and Queens Village that are more than 20 blocks away.
Friedman said Pathmark had a one-year lease on the property that runs out in March and the company decided not to renew the lease.
"We didn't extend our contract with Federal Realty because we couldn't come up with a plan that would accommodate the community and meet the needs of the company,"said Rich Savner, a spokesman for Pathmark.
Savner said the filers were sent out to gauge the response from the community beyond the civic organizations and political leaders and they got "an overwhelming response from the greater Fresh Meadows community" that the store was welcomed at the site.
"It's a tremendous victory for civic associations in the area," said James Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Association. "All the civic associations pulled together and worked closely. That's why we were successful."
The opposition to Pathmark stemmed from the proposed size of the store, which was 55,000-square-feet, and its location among smaller buildings surrounded by side streets.
"The streets are just not wide enough to warrant (the store)," said Gallagher. "We did not want a mega store in the area."
Savner said the community leaders wanted Pathmark to move into the existing building, which is 18,000 square feet, but in order for the project to work for the company a space at least twice that size was needed. He said Pathmark still wants to open a store in Queens and it is exploring other sites, but he declined to disclose where.
Gallagher said he was hopeful a smaller store would move into the existing building because there is not a supermarket within walking distance.
"We're not opposed to a regular grocery store," said Gallagher. "The sooner we get someone in there the better."
Gallagher said he would welcome the opportunity to meet with Federal Realty Trust, the company that owns the property, to see what kind of supermarket could move into the location.
"Federal Reality has to sit down with us and discuss the location," said Gallagher.
The coalition of civic groups that opposed the store were Fresh Meadows Homeowners Association, West Cunningham Park Civic Association, Hillcrest Estate Civic Association, Utopia State Civic Association, Fresh Meadows Tenants Association, and the Meadowlark Gardens Co-op Association.
Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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