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CityMD Preparing Move to Longtime Dominican Restaurant Space

By Rachel Holliday Smith | May 9, 2014 4:45pm | Updated on May 12, 2014 8:25am
 A CityMD is headed to the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Park Place, where El Gran Castillo de Jagua operated for 32 years.
Changes at 347 Flatbush Ave
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PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The former locations of six neighborhood restaurants and stores including Dominican eatery El Gran Castillo de Jagua are set to be converted into a 3,500-square-foot urgent care clinic by the end of the year, according to the real estate agent leasing the project.

CityMD signed a 10-year lease for the ground-floor space at 347 Flatbush Ave., which anchors the corner of Flatbush and Park Place, Ryan Condren of CPEX Real Estate said.

“It’s a very powerful corner,” Condran said. “The foot traffic is very strong because you’re right above the B and the Q line.”

At the site Thursday, construction workers were busy deconstructing the interiors of several shops on Park Place that will be combined into the CityMD space.

CityMD, one of several urgent care companies in the city, markets itself as an alternative to going to a hospital emergency room. The group has three locations in Brooklyn already, with three more in the works — in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, according to its website.

Calls to CityMD were not returned.

The new clinic will replace Uncle Louie G’s ice cream shop, Little Miss Muffin 'N' Her Stuffin' bakery, a bodega, a barber shop, a sushi restaurant and 32-year neighborhood fixture El Gran Castillo de Jagua. The tenants were told by their landlord, Stuart Venner, last September they would have to leave their buildings by January, said Ramon Olivo, co-owner of the Dominican restaurant.

“To move is really hard,” he told DNAinfo New York. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of stress.”

But there is a silver lining for the restaurant. Olivo secured a new location just a few storefronts away, at 355 Flatbush Ave., with help from a customer who owns the building.

On Tuesday, the eatery started serving up in its new space favorites like rotisserie chicken, the mashed plantain dish mangu, and rice and beans.

“Everything stays the same,” Olivo said. “Just the location is different. Same people, same customers, same neighborhood” and most importantly, the same menu, he said.

“Everybody’s more happy,” he said of his customers. “They’re saying we did nice decorations. They like it.”

The Park Place bakery around the corner from the Dominican restaurant had luck finding another location, too. Little Miss Muffin 'N' Her Stuffin' relocated onto Washington Avenue, according to the store’s website.

But not everyone was so lucky. The owners of Uncle Louie G's said they've been looking for a new shop in the area, but haven't found anything they can afford. The two former managers of the Park Place spot are finding rents for similarly sized storefronts between $7,000 and $10,000 a month, much higher than what they were paying before, co-owner Pete Scalici said.

“They searched the whole area," Scalici said. "The rents are enormous and we can’t find anything.”

Olivo of El Gran declined to say what the new rent costs but said it "more" than the previous amount. Little Miss Muffin's owner did not respond to inquiries about her new location's cost. The fate of the other stores on the corner, including the sushi restaurant, barber shop and bodega, were not immediately known.

The Flatbush corridor between Prospect Heights and Park Slope is an especially strong market, Condren of CPEX said. The lease signed by CityMD was “very close” to the asking price of $125 a square foot, he said.

The owner of the building is thinking about marketing the second story of the property as residential rental units, he said. Venner, the landlord, had originally considered offering that space for retail use, as is shown in a listing on CPEX’s website, but had a change of heart, Condren said.

Venner could not be reached for comment.