QUEENS — The shortage of parking at Queens' only Trader Joe's store has reached crisis levels, locals say.
The California-based grocer's Rego Park branch has had a parking lot that's been notoriously cramped since it opened in 2007 — but the situation got even worse after a nearby store's parking lot nearby was fenced off, they said.
The store, located at 90-30 Metropolitan Ave., on the border of Forest Hills, Rego Park and Glendale, shares its 134-space parking lot with a Staples and a Michaels art store — according to data provided by the Department of Buildings.
Shoppers would often park at two large parking lots nearby — in front of a former Sports Authority store, and near the Home Depot, locals said.
But recently Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will soon replace Sports Authority, fenced off its lot, taking away dozens of badly needed spaces and cutting off one of two lanes leading to the parking lot in front of the Home Depot, locals said.
Local shopper Diane Elkan said that when she came to shop at the center in mid December, it took her about 15 minutes to get into Trader Joe's parking lot and about 40 minutes to get out.
“People were frustrated by the long wait," she said. "I saw two fender benders ... and one fight right in front of my car because people were trying to cut each other off. It’s very poorly planned and dangerous."
Another shopper, Martin Bogle of Rego Park, said the situation, especially during the holiday season and on weekends, “is sometimes getting out of control.”
“Every time I come here now, drivers are honking, screaming and fighting because there is just not enough space,” he said, adding that people walking around with shopping carts make it even more difficult to navigate the small parking lot. "People are tired of waiting."
Frank Gulluscio, district manager at Community Board 6, said that he was aware of the problems at the location.
“There is a traffic situation on that corner and we are aware of it,” he said, adding that “it’s a combination of things,” including the recently fenced-off parking lot, the holiday season and possibly the timing of the traffic lights at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Trotting Course Lane, he said.
“I hope that when Dick’s opens up soon the problem will be alleviated,” he said.
A spokesman for Dick’s told DNAinfo New York earlier this month that "the store is expected to open in the spring of 2017.”
Gulluscio also said that CB6 alerted the 112th Precinct about the problem, he said.
An official at the 112th Precinct said there was “no increase in accidents at the location.”
Trade Joe’s did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.