Federal Realty spokeswoman Stephanie Blank said the company was "in negotiations with a number of restaurants for that space" but could not release any specifics."Whatever retail tenant is chosen should strike a balance between the needs of the community and the requirements of Federal Realty, which had a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders," a statement from the realty company said.Although he considered the pullout a "tremendous victory," Fresh Meadows Homeowners Association President James Gallagher said he hoped a smaller store would still move into the empty shopping center at 69th Avenue and 195th Lane."We're not opposed to a regular grocery store," said Gallagher. "The sooner we get someone in there the better."The opposition to Pathmark stemmed from the proposed size of the store, which would have expanded the lot's existing 18,000-square-foot building to 55,000 square feet."The streets are just not wide enough to warrant (the store)," Gallagher said. "We did not want a mega store in the area." He said he would welcome the opportunity to meet with Federal Realty Trust 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. Last week Pathmark's lawyer notified Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) 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 fliers 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 welcome at the site. He said the community leaders wanted Pathmark to move in, 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. One could almost hear a sigh of relief from the area civic leaders, who had spent the last several months fighting the development proposal."All the civic associations pulled together and worked closely," Gallagher said. "That's why we were successful."A coalition of civic groups formed to battle Pathmark 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 Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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