The developer seeking to build a massive apartment tower on the site of Trump Village Shopping Center will end months of rumors and fretful speculation by finally revealing his plans at a public meeting in Brighton Beach on Jan. 21.
Representatives of property owner Rubin Schron will present his plans — which include an 40-story, as-of-right, mixed-use building with “upscale” retail on the ground floor — to community members and elected officials at a meeting next week at Abraham Lincoln High School.
Worried locals have been in the dark since October, when rumors of the shopping center’s impending demolition first began circulating. Senior citizens have been concerned about the fate of the various storefronts there that they depend on, including pharmacies, a post office and several specialist doctors’ offices.
Some of the businesses getting pushed out of the complex will relocate to a nearby site on Sheepshead Bay Road before construction begins, said a spokeswoman for the developer, though she did not specify which businesses.
“The property is just one block from the existing shopping center and will enable tenants to continue to meet the needs of the neighborhood’s residents,” said spokeswoman Christa Segalini. “The new development at 614 Sheepshead Bay Road is planned to be completed and ready for occupancy in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the developer is currently in talks with the shopping center’s tenants about relocating.”
The site, once home to the Dangman Park Manufactured Gas Plant, is still contaminated with toxins, including cyanide and mercury. Representatives from National Grid, which bought the company that originally operated the plant, will also attend the meeting, but the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will not be there.
The department plans to host an additional meeting along with representatives from the state Department of Heath the following Wednesday on Jan. 28. A spokesman for the department said safety measures will be discussed at the meeting, which will be held at the same location as the developer’s meeting.
The department said it has completed dozens of similar manufactured gas plant cleanups throughout the state, and if the strip mall is demolished, the department will require National Grid to clean up the soil contamination before the construction of a new building.
Residents opposed to the tower say that they hope a large public outcry at the meeting will convince the developer to reevaluate the plans. One longtime local said a building a tower on a contaminated plot in a flood zone is irresponsible — especially because the majority of residents who live nearby are senior citizens who could be particularly vulnerable to the toxins in the soil.
“First and foremost, the environmental concerns — plus, what happened in the aftermath of Sandy. Is everything as safe as we thought it once was?” said Brian Gotlieb, who has lived in Trump Village for nearly 30 years. “How are we to keep everyone safe? That has to be the overriding priority.”
But an elected official said the meeting is the first step in what he hopes will be an amicable relationship between the developer and the community.
“This is an opportunity we all have to voice our concerns, and this is very important that they’re coming,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay). “If you want to be good neighbors, you have to be a good neighbor yourself.”
The Trump Village Shopping Center Public Meeting at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brighton Beach (2800 Ocean Parkway near West Avenue). Jan. 21 at 7 pm.