Risa Chain, the managing agent whose family owns the property through the G&H Real Estate Holding Corp., said she originally pressed to have a pharmacy in the store at 252-17 Northern Blvd. to serve residents."I talked them into taking that store because I thought that Little Neck needed a drugstore," she said.Chain said the suggestion that Eckerd closed because the landlords wanted to charge a higher rent was wrong. The drugstore, at the time a Genovese, signed a 15-year lease in 2000, with scheduled 13 percent rent increases every five years.Eckerd acquired Genovese in 1999, although that store had not yet been converted when it opened. Rite Aid Corp. is now in the process of acquiring the Eckerd brand.Staples, which is scheduled to open in April in the 9,300-square-foot space, will take over Eckerd's lease, Chain said.An official in Eckerd's real estate division could not comment on why the store closed. City Department of Finance records show that the drugstore agreed to a 15-year lease in 2000, with an option for the tenant to extend the lease for five more years. Eckerd's sudden departure at the beginning of January jarred Little Neck residents whose prescriptions were sent half a mile away to a CVS in Douglaston. The move created a burden for senior citizens in the area who were used to walking to pick up their pills.After the closing, there were reports that Eckerd cited rising rents as the reason the store would close. Bob Nobile, president of the Little Neck Pines Civic Association, said he had heard from workers at the store that Eckerd wanted to stay but had lost its lease.Chain said that was not the case."I did everything I could to convince them to stay," she said.She emphasized her family's deep ties to Little Neck - her grandfather, Samuel Hofstein, came to the town in 1927 and purchased the property in the later 1940s. The family corporation still owns the property, and Chain works at a law practice down the block. Chain said Eckerd officials had told her the store was not profitable and they intended to close it a year ago.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@times
©2007 Community News Group
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