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Best Buy, cineplex seen as likely tenants - Big box stores could take up residence on site of former Verizon lot

A multiplex movie theater may be coming to a massive vacant lot on Sheepshead Bay Road, this newspaper has learned. The two-acre site comprising 1600 Sheepshead Bay Road and 1501 Voorhies Avenue could also welcome a 30,000 to 40,000-square-foot health club and other retail uses, according to Steve Barrison, an attorney and president of the Bay Improvement Group. Barrison said he met with the real estate firm that handled the sale of the property, as well as the developer, who he said briefed him about the plans. “This is the right place for appropriate development — the question is, how big? The scale of the development must be compatible with what the community’s infrastructure can handle,” Barrison said. “Can they make it work? Maybe,” he offered. The site was recently purchased by Acadia Realty Trust for $20.3 million—the largest real estate transaction in the neighborhood in 20 years. Acadia’s development partner is P/A Associates. Together, the pair is building Canarsie Plaza, which could see the arrival of a 126,000-square-foot Home Depot near the Brooklyn Terminal Market. What direction the Sheepshead Bay project will take is uncertain. No plans have yet been filed with the Department of City Planning, a spokesperson at the agency said. P/A Associate’s Carolyn Malinsky said there is nothing yet to share about the project. “We have not solidified our plans,” she said. Rumors are also circulating that Best Buy, the consumer electronics giant, could be interested in leasing space at the site. Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo said she has heard from “several people” that Best Buy could be coming. “The developer who purchased it is into big box stores,” she noted. At press time, Best Buy did not return a call for comment. Scavo stressed that the board has not received any proposed plans—or any word, for that matter—from the developer. As for a movie theater’s arrival, Scavo voiced skepticism. “It’s a ruse. I can’t believe another multiplex will move so close to the UA,” she said, referring to the 14-screen United Arts theater at 3907 Shore Parkway. “I think it would be a money loser,” she said of a theater on Sheepshead Bay Road, adding that developers will often present “worst case scenarios” in order to engender support for the “lesser of two evils,” for example, condominiums instead of a multiplex. White Plains-based Acadia released a third quarter investor relations report saying that the preliminary redevelopment plan for the Sheepshead Bay project is to develop up to 240,000 square feet of retail. The site holds nearly 330,000 commercial buildable square feet, or almost 235,000 residential buildable square feet, according to Massey Knakal Realty, which exclusively handled the sale of the property. The Sheepshead Bay Road property holds 12,709 square feet of land with a 11,870 square foot, two-story building with five retail stores, five offices, and one residential apartment. All of the commercial leases expire by July 2010. Barrison said he saw plans for the site just a few months ago. “Traffic, safety and congestion is already a big problem,” he noted. “I don’t know how they are going to address it.” “They are talking about a movie theater and a gym—those are huge traffic generators,” he continued. If a movie theater is constructed, it represents a renaissance of sorts. A theater once occupied 1722 Sheepshead Bay Road, the present home of Bally Total Fitness.

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