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Whitestone mall reopens after city shutdown

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Business owners at a newly opened Whitestone shopping center said they were distressed that the city had shut them down following a recent inspection.

The city's Department of Buildings shut down all businesses at Whitestone Commons, located at 150-51 14th Avenue near Clintonville Street in Whitestone, on Aug. 27 after inspectors found that the building had been occupied without having a valid certificate of occupancy.

A DOB spokeswoman said that vacate orders had been lifted by Saturday and that most of the businesses had been issued temporary certificates of occupancy.

Last week, a sign posted by the DOB on the front door of all the mall's stores said "conditions in the building are imminently perilous to life."

The center's 10 stores include Solera Tanning, Blush Fashion Accessories, Ranju's Threading Salon, Bridge 51, Allegro Vivace Music Center, Whitestone Wireless, Inc., La Giraffa Children's Boutique, Everything on a Bagel, Whitestone Pharmacy and Foxxy Hair Salon.

A woman working in the office of Valenza Contractors, which operates the shopping center, would not comment on the center's being shut down.

But business owners at the center, which opened in mid-summer, said last week they were concerned that the closing of their stores could be catastrophic due to the nation's current economic downturn.

"We are a mom-and-pop shop, so we are trying to survive," said Roberto Viola, owner of the center's Whitestone Pharmacy, last Thursday. "And they have not given us a date for reopening. It could be tomorrow, it could be two weeks."

Another business owner who would not give her name said the closing occurred at the worst possible time.

"In the times we are in, with the economy, this could kill a business," she said. "It's not a positive sign."

Business owners said they had been forced to turn away numerous customers.

Inessa Romano, who lives in Whitestone and shops at the center, said the mall's closing has been a neighborhood inconvenience.

"It's hard to begin with," she said. "There are not too many shopping centers like this in Whitestone. This isn't fair to the business owners."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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