From The Queens Courier: By Luisa Garcia
After six years, a lease agreement has been signed with Famiglia-DeBartolo, LLC for the operation of a two-story pizzeria/Italian restaurant at one of the street level spaces located at the 74th Street-Broadway/ Roosevelt Avenue Station. “We are very excited about opening a restaurant at such a practical and convenient location. The Jackson Heights Community is vibrant, diverse, represents the heart of New York and we feel right at home,” said Paul Kolaj, president of Famiglia-DeBartolo, which runs Famous Famiglia. “We intend to provide economic growth for the community by hiring approximately 30 employees.” In December 2010, after many failed attempts, the MTA advertised a new request for proposals. A total of 13 proposals were received in response. The highest proposal received was from Famous Famiglia. Getting the MTA to lease the vacant space was one of the first issues City Councilmember Daniel Dromm addressed when elected in 2009.
Dromm demanded the MTA lease the vacant properties to generate much needed revenue during the city’s economic crisis and avoid drastic service cuts. Since the station was refurbished in 2005, the MTA has inexplicably missed out on a significant source of income.
“The MTA had neglected the gateway to our community for far too long,” said Dromm. “I am delighted the MTA has finally taken steps towards leasing the empty storefronts at the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue station. Having these spaces filled will not only generate badly needed revenue for the MTA but it will also have an enormous impact on the economic development of our neighborhood and improve our residential quality of life.”
According to MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz, the large size and required capital investment by a potential tenant made leasing this space a challenge.
“This is an example of how we are trying to maximize the benefits of our real estate portfolio, specifically our retail space to increase revenues,” said Ortiz.
Last year, the MTA saw approximately $75 million in revenue from its retail spaces.
“We should not have empty retail space anywhere in New York,” said Isaac Emperador, business owner and resident of Jackson Heights. “Although it took too long for the MTA to market the empty lot, opening a pizzeria will push for economic development in Queens.”
Senator Jose R. Peralta said filling this space would help clean up Roosevelt Avenue and give it a more family-friendly character.
“We need to make sure that we create jobs and that residents of Queens have an opportunity for economic growth,” said Peralta. “The location is perfect because it is the fifth most utilized station in the city of New York.”
The 24-hour eatery is expected to open in six to nine months and proposes to operate a pizzeria with a full line of pizza, pasta, salads, sandwiches, wraps and beverages. It also plans to provide a breakfast menu and operate 24-hours a day at this centrally located space.