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Businesses Face Eviction For Fulton Street Transit Center

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TWC News: Businesses Face Eviction For Fulton Street Transit Center
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This week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will unveil its design for the Fulton Street Transit Center. It's expected to be as grand in scope as the design for the nearby World Trade Center transit hub.

But for the businesses in buildings that will have to be knocked down to make way for the project, there is more resentment than excitement.

“We kept the place up and running. They were worried about businesses leaving en masse after 9/11, and now it's like a slap in the face,” said Jim Boudouvas, the owner of New York Blossoms, Inc.

Boudouvas' flower shop is one of more than 100 businesses that will likely have to relocate. The buildings being torn down range from one to 12 stories and are home to several chain stores, including a Modell's that is already scouting for a new location.

“We're looking for other sites along Broadway, in this general area,” said Wayne Ford, the general manager of the Modell’s. “We have 110 stores, so I'm sure we'll be able to get another location, if we can't keep this location. The company will be OK.”

But some smaller businesses may not be OK. Mirza Mamur moved his art and frame store five months after the September 11, 2001, attacks, banking on the idea that things would get better Downtown.

“I made my customers, the economy is getting better, I can feel the economy getting better with the business, and now we have to move again,” he said.

The MTA will help businesses with the cost of relocating. The agency also says that because of high vacancy rates in the area, they shouldn't have trouble finding a place to move. But unlike businesses on the Upper East Side that recently got letters warning about the impact of the Second Avenue subway, these businesses have gotten almost no information up to this point, and they seem to have little trust they'll be taken care of.

“Of course I'm worried about it,” said Boudouvas. “I got two children. I got bills to pay, just like the rest of us do. “I ate through all my savings after 9/11 just to keep this place up and running.”

The design for the transit center will be unveiled Wednesday at a meeting of the American Institute of Architects. Then business owners and anyone else wanting to comment will get their say at a public hearing on June 8.

- Bobby Cuza
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