Certainly something to brag about: Urban Edge Properties just bought the Pan-Bay shopping center at 156-10 through 156-40 Cross Bay Blvd. for a record-breaking $27 million, purportedly the biggest real estate transaction in the history of Howard Beach. Rumors abound on the sale of the center, and with good reason. The nearly two-acre property, which contains 14 retail spaces and 10 office spaces, along with a parking lot, could be a future home for any number of businesses enticing to local residents. At the same time, locals are also fearing the worst for the spots they currently patronize: Whatever will happen to Dr. Hershfeld? Now I need a new 99 Cent Store! (Maybe that’s a good thing…) What’s happening to Sugar Bun, purveyor of one of our favorite coffees in the neighborhood and various sweet treats?
Some of our fears were allayed in speaking to Alex Catalano, the realtor who brokered the big deal. Others were not. Sugar Bun appears to be sticking (no pun intended) around, but we don’t know what’s going on with Dr. Hershfeld’s office. It’s always a bit unnerving when you don’t know where your primary care doctor is headed, and it’s even more disconcerting if you’re elderly and can’t follow him too far out of the neighborhood.
At this point, the less we know, the better, so that we can at least remain hopeful about some of the rumors we’re hearing. What businesses eventually occupy the acreage at Pan-Bay will affect us all in myriad ways. What does a huge sale of this nature mean for the community? First of all, we can expect our property values to go up based on the high purchase price alone. But more importantly, in as far as our local businesses can represent us and the entire community, those specific businesses matter because they are both our voices and windows into our daily lives. They will decide how we shop, what we buy, where we get our healthcare, and how much we spend on parking. Actually, they will help to determine whether we are happy or sad.
We like Trader Joe’s, so we like imagining that we’ll be able to buy their olive oil and imported dried fruits. We like Trader Joe’s wine shop even better, with its store-brand wines that cost $2 or $3 a bottle and are nothing to sneeze at in terms of quality. Will we get a Trader Joe’s, the one with the wine shop? And what about all these Chipotle rumors we’ve been hearing for years? If any place needs more Mexican food options, it’s Howard Beach. We love us some Chipotle, even as it has become controversial in recent months for hosting deadly E. coli bacteria at some locations. Eh, what’s a little E. Coli? We’re craving Mexican!
And of course we at The Forum have plenty of other suggestions for tenants who might speak effectively in the voice of our community, but we’ll keep (the rest of) our opinions to ourselves on that matter. Regardless of what ends up in Pan-Bay, we send our heartfelt congratulations to the new buyers, to Alex Catalano, and to the future tenants, whomever they may be.