The rumored closing of the Trump Village shopping center has flung the area’s seniors into fighting mode.
On Oct. 15, about 50 Trump Village residents protested in the courtyard near the shopping hub, holding homemade signs with heart-wrenching pleas written to the center’s billionaire owner — “Don’t destroy our neighborhood.”
The alleged plan for a 40-story condominium terrifies the mostly elderly residents of the close-knit community — one of Brooklyn’s several so-called “naturally occurring retirement communities” — many of whom have limited mobility and rely on the shopping center for everything, said one protester.
“As you can see, most of us are seniors. Most of us do not have cars and many of us have walkers,” said Eleanor Carrabba. “What can we do to make it work? Where else can we go shopping? Where else can we get a haircut?”
The owner, real estate mogul Rubin Schron, hasn’t filed paperwork yet for any new project, but the area’s zoning — residential with a commercial overlay — means the rumored redevelopment would be as-of-right, and wouldn’t have to go before the community board for approval.
Residents say they are also concerned because many of the stores in the complex have announced their imminent closure, and some shops have even posted petitions aiming to save the shopping center before it is too late.
Some of the stores will start closing in less than two months, said an employee at a dry cleaner, who confirmed his store is facing the first round of closures at the end of the year.
“Yeah,” said Yong Lee, who works at Kurt Cleaners. “Dec. 31.”
Other shops say their leases are up in April and will not be renewed. But some businesses, such as a doctor’s office and the chain pharmacies, have longer-term leases. An employee at the doctor’s office said she feels terrible for the businesses with expired leases but said her company has more than a year left — and they’re not going down without a fight.
“We’re so sad about it,” said Liana Abraamovich, who works at Trump Village Dental and Medical Plaza. “Our lease is not expired like the other places — we don’t plan to go that easy.”
One protester, who has already collected more than 100 signatures for one of the many petitions circulating to save the center, said she hopes the whole neighborhood keeps fighting to keep out the condos she said would destroy the neighborhood.
“It is the little guy fighting the wealthy,” said Elissa Schwartz. “It is going to overtake this area.”