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Experts predict demise of Sheepshead Bay Road’s last mom-and-pop shops

Abandoned storefronts: Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan is devastated that so many businesses have closed along Sheepshead Bay Road.
Brooklyn Daily
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The way is paved for chain stores.

Landlords along a boarded-up section of Sheepshead Bay Road are intentionally keeping storefronts empty while they wait for big-name retailers to come knocking, a real estate watcher said. The area is in the midst of a massive residential development boom that includes a 28-story condo on nearby Voorhies Avenue, and it’s only a matter of time before nationally known coffee houses and faux-Mexican joints move in, an expert said.

“The supply of residential pushes the demand for commercial — banks, pharmacies, food chains, Starbucks, Chipotle,” said Aliaksandr Svetlakou of Cushman and Wakefield. “Some of the people they are waiting to secure that kind of thing … something with a lease guaranteed by a corporation with a minimum 10 years. That area is very hot right now — they want to play the cards right.”

Dozens of multi-family apartments are under construction in the neighborhood, including four projects six stories or higher within a five-minute walk of the half-shuttered main street, an investigation by this paper showed earlier this year.

And unpopular changes to Sheepshead Bay Road are accelerating its downfall as a mecca for mom-and-pop shops, local leaders say. The stretch has been hurting since Hurricane Sandy, but the city’s move to make the street one-way is the final nail in the coffin, because pedestrians and drivers now totally avoid the shopping strip — and it’s only a matter of time before remnants of old-school Brooklyn give way to chain stores, one area authority said.

“A quiet main street is a dead main street — it’s that simple. You want traffic, you want people, you want noises. It’s hurting the businesses,” said Steve Barrison of the Bay Improvement Group. “Clearly they’re going to be gone. Sheepshead Bay Road will not be recognized by anybody in two to three years.”

Meantime a few neighborhood boosters have started Facebook page “Save Sheepshead Bay Rd.” to promote remaining shops, one said.

“It pains me to see,” said area politico Ari Kagan, who founded the group with attorney Inna Vernikov. “The last several years, each time another business is closed, I want to help somehow.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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