Going up: Decades-old Kings Highway building makes way for taller commercial development

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A big commercial development is coming to a stretch of Kings Highway near the B and Q lines that has some wondering whether it’s too much for the Sheepshead Bay shopping strip.

Rumors began swirling in 2012 about the site at 1601-1621 Kings Highway — a roughly one-block stretch between E. 16th and E. 17th streets — when about 10 shops on the block suddenly shut their doors and moved out of the building.

Architectural plans the developer has filed with the city show that the current two-story structure will be knocked down and replaced with a five-story building with two floors of commercial space below three floors of offices.

Local leaders say the project is a mixed bag, because it will bring more shoppers to the district — but that means more traffic congestion.

“You bring the people, but they have no place to park,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “It’s not good for the community.”

The plans call for 15–20 parking spaces on the building’s basement level, but Scavo doubts the extra parking will accommodate all of the additional shoppers and office workers the development will attract.

“Fifteen parking spots is nothing,” she said.

A local businessman who worked out of 1601 Kings Highway said the development signals the end of an era.

“We’d been in that building for 40 years,” said George Diamos, manager of the Big Banana market, which moved a block east when its lease expired and the building owner declined to renew.

Scavo said an architect’s rendering of the proposed building does not jibe with the character of the neighborhood, which is mostly made up of two-story brick buildings.

The existing building dates back to 1931, city records show. Its brick facade still bears an inscription for the Kingsway Realty Corp., which owned the building until at least 2011, according to city records. Current Department of Buildings records show Manhattan-based Lake Realty controls the site now.

The property owner declined to comment for this story, and it is unclear what businesses might occupy the new building once it goes up. The land is zoned C4 for commercial uses, and there is no residential designation on the lot, according to Department of City Planning records.

Diamos said he heard from a demolition crew that a CVS drugstore and a Modell’s sporting goods store are possibilities, and Scavo said she heard the same.

The Big Banana’s owners have no plans to move back into its old location once the new building opens because they believe the space is spoken for, Diamos said.

“No, they already have plans for the building,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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