By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — For jewelry store owner Adam Gindi, it was a real-life 'Miracle on 34th Street.'
Gindi and other midtown business owners are celebrating a last-minute pardon in the fight for their livelihood after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie axed the ARC tunnel project, which would have razed their buildings and forced them out.
"I'm ecstatic. I'm calling everybody. I feel like I just won the lottery," said Gindi, 46, whose Diamonds and Dials jewelry store at West 34th Street and Sixth Avenue had been marked for demolition after more than 50 years on the block.
"It’s a miracle on 34th Street!" he said.
Gindi's is one of more than 90 Manhattan businesses that the Port Authority had planned to oust to make way for Access to the Region's Core, the multi-billion-dollar tunnel project that would have borne two new commuter tunnels from New Jersey to Midtown and greatly expanded Penn Station.
Construction has already begun in New Jersey and was expected to break ground in Manhattan this year – until Gov. Christie pulled the chord Thursday, citing soaring costs.
And while some Jersey residents were less than thrilled, those in the bulldozers' path were cheering.
"It's great news for us," said Mike Higgins, the owner of the Blarney Rock bar, which had been slated to be razed to make way for a fan plant to ventilate the new station. The friendly Irish pub, which has stood on W. 33rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues beside Hickey's bar since the sixties, has long been a favorite of union workers and Irish ex-pats.
Bartender Tim Tully, who lives in Yonkers and has been serving shots of Jameson and pints of Guinness at the long wooden bar for seven years, said staff have spent the last few years counting their days.
"Now it's kicked in the butt, thank God!" he said. "We're all delighted. Everybody is."
Long Island carpenter Charlie Egan, 48, who's been a regular at Blarney Rock for 25 years, said he was "taken back" when he first heard the bar was slated for demolition, but breathed a sigh of relief when he learned the news Thursday.
He had a message for Gov. Christie: "Thank you, thank you very much for leaving us alone."
While the Port Authority had said it would reimburse displaced tenants for the costs of relocation, some had worried they would be forced out of business or be unable to find comparable space. Others planned to sue the authority, which had threatened to use eminent domain to seize properties if settlements weren’t reached.
Emily Mill, 40, a sales associate at Diamonds and Dials who has worked at the store for nearly a decade, said the staff "flipped out" when they heard the good news.
"We cried. We prayed, 'Thank you God.' We were flying high."
Umar Farooq, a server at the Salt & Pepper Indian restaurant at 139 W. 33rd St., which was also slated to be razed, was also elated to find out Thursday that jobs at the eatery aren't at risk.
"Thank God we're safe," he said grinning. "I'm feeling very happy."
But John Long, 65, a construction worker who's been a regular at Blarney Rock for 40 years, said that Farooq and the others may not want to get too comfortable just get, since another governor could change his mind.
"They’ve got a few years on their side," he conceded. But "Christie won't be around forever," he said.