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Opinion June 20, 2013- By Steven E. Greer
When the LeFrak-owned Gateway Plaza went off the Mitchell-Lama rent stabilization program several years ago, it made it possible for LeFrak to sell the property. It has been rumored that neighboring Brookfield Properties was interested in purchasing it. We believe that Brookfield should purchase the parking garage on South End Avenue, demolish it, and build a better commercial real estate and parking structure complex.
Very soon, the renovations to the World Financial Center towers will be completed, and the new “Brookfield Place” will house some of the finest retailers and restaurants, such as Hermes, Burberry and Michael Kors. In addition, prestigious corporations are signing leases now, such as Jones Day law firm. Juxtaposed, the current Gateway commercial strip is a relic from the 1980’s and an utter eyesore.
The entire Gateway plaza was constructed before the other buildings in Battery Park City, and does not conform to the overall architectural city planning design. There is no place for the commercial trucks to load, so South End Avenue is a double-parking mess every day. Lack a proper loading zone, the shops, such as Gristedes, pile dozens of bags of trash directly on the sidewalk, attracting a huge rat population to BPC. The storefronts are ugly, and better tenants would move in if there was a better building in place.
Brookfield Properties has the most at stake in this matter. Their ability to fill out their towers with more clients like Jones Day will depend on whether the surrounding properties are accommodative. If LeFrak is unwilling to put the proper capital to work, then a new developer should come in and completely change the look of South End Avenue.
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