Dozens of Willets Point Shop Owners Eyeing Hunts Point Warehouse
WILLETS POINT — Business owners in Willets Point, which is slated for a massive, multimillion-dollar revamp, are eyeing an expansive warehouse in The Bronx to move dozens of their shops.
Sergio Aguirre, an organizer with the Sunrise Cooperative, a for-profit group jointly controlled by 52 auto body businesses in Willets Point, said the collective is in negotiations with the landlord of a 150,000-square-foot warehouse in Hunts Point.
"This is the largest space," he said of the light-filled warehouse. "It's the perfect place for shops."
Aguirre said the group had also looked at a space in Maspeth, but nothing is final yet.
The plan to turn the heavily polluted Iron Triangle from a stretch of auto body repair shops into a retail and residential destination was first proposed in 2008. The latest version of the plan will redevelop the area in phases, and was approved by the City Council in October.
Group relocation was one of the largest issues pushed by shop owners and workers at Willets Point, who said that their success was contingent on recreating a similar environment to the one found at the site, where car owners could choose from a selection of repair options nearby.
In 2012, the Sunrise Cooperative put together a business plan for group relocation that explained how they would finance and develop empty space.
A spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corporation said the agency doesn't comment on negotiations to respect the privacy of the businesses, but said that the group hired to assist the businesses, Cornerstone, has been working to find a place for them to relocate.
"We have to make sure to stay together," Aguirre said, adding that they still need more time to finalize the plans.
"We have to really sign the place — then get an engineer, architect, in order to relocate all of the shops."