Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Concourse Plaza Update Should Reflect Neighborhood's Needs, Shoppers Say

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The 161st Street shopping district is undergoing some dramatic changes right now and many shoppers are wondering what's next. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

For more than 20 years Concourse Plaza has been the shopping hub for people who live and work near Yankee Stadium.

"It was convenience, especially to the workers here. It was a place where they could go on their lunch break and take care of their errands," said one shopper.

"I used to go to the decoration store that they used to have there and I buy stuff for my house for the bathroom," said another shopper.

But few stores are open now in the plaza, which most everyone admitted was showing signs of wear.

"It could have been better. It could be. I wanted to see an improvement," said one shopper.

Two years ago the developer, The Feil Organization, prepared for a major renovation of the plaza by not renewing leases for several small businesses. Shoppers say they miss the stores.

"There's a lot of projects, a lot of co-ops around here and we gotta go almost downtown, across town to even shop," said one resident.

Members of the business community say they were encouraged though because the developer promised to work with its neighbors in the future.

"At that time they said, 'When we're getting ready to reopen, we want to hear what you would like to see in this neighborhood. What kinds of retail do you need here, want here?'" said 161st Street Business Improvement District Executive Director Cary Goodman.

But now with signs of a new Concourse Plaza springing up they say they've been told nothing.

"We've never heard back from them," Goodman said.

The developer is keeping mum, telling NY1 only that the scaffolding will come down in July and updates will be given then. But that's not stopping folks who live and work in the area from saying what they think should go there.

"I wish that they would just put a little more different stores. Like what we see in the city, instead of the same typical stores that we have in Third Avenue," said one resident.

"Discount stores. Expensive stores around here it would not work," said another resident.

"Definitely more clothing stores and book stores actually," added a third resident.

Regardless of what businesses move in, most agree that they should cater to both residents who live in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods and the court community who works there.

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