Businesses Face Uncertain Future in Former Joe Abbracciamento Building

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on April 30, 2014 5:58pm 

Slideshow
 Developer is planning to demolish a building where the popular Abbracciamento Restaurant had been.
Several Rego Park Businesses Face Uncertain Future
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QUEENS — Several Rego Park businesses face an uncertain future after the new owner of a block-long property on Woodhaven Boulevard, which included the famed former Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, announced that he plans to replace it with a new residential building that will have no space for businesses.

The eatery closed in March after 65 years in business and the next month the family sold the entire building, which stretches between 63rd Avenue and 62nd Drive.

In addition to the restaurant, the property also includes more than a half-dozen small businesses, including a dentist office, spa and hair salon.

The businesses said they are now searching for new homes after the new owner, Long Island City-based Criterion Group, filed plans with the Department of Buildings to demolish the site.

The application has been approved, but the group must obtain required work permits before demolition can begin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings said.

Some business owners said that they are embittered, because the previous owner did not made it clear that he intended to sell the building.

“I absolutely understand their right to sell, but the way they went about it was very disrespectful to everybody on the block,” said Roslyn Sofer, the owner of Community Physical Therapy, which has been located on the block for 22 years.

“The landlords were not forthcoming in telling us what was going on,” she said, adding that she found out that the property was being sold from a newspaper article about a month ago. She also said her lease expired years ago and was not renewed because the previous owners told her that “they are not going anywhere.”

Sofer, who said she pays almost $3,200 a month in rent for her 1,000 square foot office, is now looking for a space in the neighborhood, where the majority of her patients live.

She said it has not been easy, because her business requires “ground floor and parking.” “We need visibility and access,” she said.

The owners of another business on the block, A Dog’s Best Friend, a dog grooming shop, said they were fortunate to find a new location several blocks away.

The new location, they said, will be 1,000 square feet, about twice as large as their current shop, but it will cost them $2,500 a month, around $1,000 more than what they now pay.

Ilana and Kathy Shilin, a mother and daughter who own the business, said they also didn’t have a lease, and in February, they said, the previous owners “recommended us to look for something else.”

Several business owners who had leases declined to comment on the situation, saying that they were waiting for the paperwork from the new owners.

The former owner, John Abbracciamento, said that the tenants were informed about the situation early this year. He also said that he “was very nice to all the tenants.”

“I never took advantage of any of them,” he said. “I didn’t charge thousands of dollars. They had rents of $1,500. Where are you going to find that today? I was very reasonable.”

The Criterion Group did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

But Eric Benaim of Modern Spaces, who is responsible for marketing the planned new building, said that he expects the developer to receive the necessary permits “in the next month or two.”

According to documents filed with the Department of Buildings, the new owners are planning to build a 7-story building, featuring 120 apartments and 47 parking spaces.

Benaim said the apartments will include studios, as well as 1- and 2-bedrooms at market rate. No commercial space is planned for the building, he said.

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