New Flatbush Ave shopping center could fit Walmart

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A new retail center is coming to the southern tip of Flatbush Avenue — and it could bring Walmart with it.

The city, with the help of Forest City Ratner Companies, says it wants to expand a shopping strip where a Toys ’R’ Us currently sits between Kings Plaza and the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge to accommodate up to three more stores, more parking and 15 acres of parkland. The new shopping center — dubbed the Four Sparrows Retail Center — would be just big enough to house a Walmart superstore, so critics of the Bentonville Behemoth where quick to question the plan.

“I don’t know what the idea is,” said Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano as she prepared to attend a scoping session on the proposed project on Tuesday night. “We still don’t know who’s coming to the site. We could wake up one morning and find a Walmart there. There’s too many variables.”

Two of those variables have already been determined: the toy store will remain, and Kristal Auto Mall, the city’s largest minority-owned car dealership, currently located at the corner of Kings Highway and Foster Avenue in Canarsie, is planning to move to the site.

The city presently has two options for the remainder of the site, conveniently located just off the Belt Parkway, which it has been trying to develop for 10 years.

One proposal calls for two additional buildings on the land — a one-story structure on the Flatbush Avenue side of the project the size of a football field and a two-story building on the side of the Mill Basin creek that would allow for multiple tenants and would be roughly the size of two football fields.

The second proposal calls for one building the size of three football fields — perfect for a Walmart.

In addition to the extra commerce, the city promises parking for 427 vehicles, as well as space for 27 bicycles. More than 60 trees will also be planted to beautify the spot.

Forest City Ratner Companies, which is currently building the controversial Barclay’s Center, the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, as well as a proposed 16-tower mini-city containing more than 6,600 units of housing will oversee the development of the project, which is expected to break ground in 2014.

“This area has not only some of the best demographics in the country, but is extremely under-retailed as well,” Andrew Silberfein, executive vice president and director of finance and retail development at Forest City Ratner, said in a statement.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation, the lead agency in the project, said the plans are still in its infancy and it was too early to know just who will be moving into the remaining buildings.

But Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Mill Basin), said he’s received assurances that Walmart will not be coming.

“There is not going to be enough shopping center for [a Walmart],” he said. “My conversations with the city led me to believe that they’re hoping for more upscale retail — like a Trader Joe’s — that would be an economic enhancement to the area.”

This is the second time in the last year whispers of Walmart have been heard in Southern Brooklyn. It’s no secret the company wants to move into New York City, and after attempts to open in both Staten Island and Queens were squashed, the company reportedly set its sights on the planned Gateway Shopping Center II, near Starrett City, which would allow the big-box store to move in without government interference.

Representatives of Walmart acknowledge that they want to bring one of their stores to the city, but won’t speculate on where they are looking. All they will say is they haven’t signed any leases.

Critics claim that if a Walmart comes to Brooklyn, it will destroy surrounding communities as it undercuts neighboring businesses. They also claim that Walmart pays employees very low wages, refuse to offer healthcare benefits and thwart any attempt by its workers to unionize.

“In communities across the country, Walmart stores devastate local businesses and destroy more jobs than they create,” said Assemblywoman Inez Barron (D-Canarsie).

Yet Walmart officials refute these arguments, claiming they would be welcomed by Brooklynites — many of whom already shop at the big box chain.

“We know that job creation and access to affordable food are significant needs in the city and we think our stores can be part of the solution,” said Steven Restivo, director of community affairs for Walmart. “At the same time, we know New Yorkers overwhelmingly support Walmart.”

City scoping session on the Four Sparrows Shopping Center at the Kings Plaza Community Room [5100 Kings Plaza at the corner of Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue in Mill Basin (718) 253-6842], Jan. 11 at 7 pm.

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Reader Feedback

Tom Rodeheaver from Park Slope says:
Remember the Bible story of the snake seducing Eve and in turn Adam and G-d kicks them out of Paradise. That's Walmart, whispering sweet nothings into the ears of, 1st the politicians, then the gullible public. Hear it? "Cheap goods and don't forget all those jobs." Cheap Chinese crap is killing or rather killed American manufacturing and those jobs... talk to me after you see the turn over.
Like drugs, just say no.
Jan. 11, 2011, 2:56 am
betsyrbeck says:
"Printapons" are available for restaurants, recreation activities, entertainment, and drinks. Start saving with your coupons today
Jan. 11, 2011, 3:01 am
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
This is so dumb! Anyone in that area Residents or visitors can see all of the empty stores from Ave H on down to that Toys or Us. How about redeveloping those before going and disturbing the wild-life in that area. Plus I really see more that 5 cars at that Toys or Us. Doubt anyone know's that a store is there. **s backwards this would be.
Jan. 11, 2011, 9:51 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Hey Lew Fidler,

Whatsa matter? A basketball arena is okay for Prospect Heights, but you don't want a Wal-Mart in Mill Basin? And if traffic is so bad, why not support more bike lanes to get people out of their cars?
Jan. 11, 2011, 10:20 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Also not mentioned here: the developer is none other than Forest City Ratner.
Jan. 11, 2011, 10:21 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
the number of trees in the parking lot is REQUIRED of any one for a new development. Its not something they are adding as a free bee...
Jan. 11, 2011, 10:55 am
jj from brooklyn says:
unlike the people who fought forest city downtown, south brooklyn residents — especially in and around mill basin — are totally apathetic (hardly a peep about all the crappy mcMansions built — many illegally — in the basin over the last 10 years or so). right now, they've got a barely-visited toys r us; once that's replaced with whatever, the nightmare will begin. add walmart to the mix, and forgettaboutit. idiot suckers; they'll certainly be sorry.

(funny that the brooklyn paper "forget" to mention forest city.)
Jan. 11, 2011, 11:08 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Oooooh! Sacred Trees to be planted Oooooh!

But those trees drop leaves, and those leaves release carbon dioxide when they disintegrate!

Wal-Mart bringing jobs to people without them!
Jan. 11, 2011, 12:14 pm
judahspechal from Bed-stuy says:
I get soo confused with people. Why always the cart before the horse. Walmart brings jobs. Please! Those cheap prices you touts, those minimal paying jobs you tout. Tell me how many manufacturing jobs Walmart has driven out of this country because of the cheap labor they get in Third World Countries, for low low prices that everyone like? They cost jobs. American jobs, your neighbor's jobs.Or does that not matter. Where do we take a stand? Stop Walmart!!
Jan. 11, 2011, 12:55 pm
Resident from of PPW says:
I hope it is a Super Store!
Jan. 11, 2011, 2:01 pm
Natty from Bay Ridge says:
Say goodbye to small business. Sigh.
Jan. 11, 2011, 2:08 pm
WW from Bay Ridge says:

Say goodbye to small business???? does the same thing - but the script doesn't tell him to say the Amazon is bad. You never see the elves of Amazon filling your order and putting it in that nifty box.

Walmart didn't close down manufacturing in this country - regulation and regulation drove them out.
Jan. 11, 2011, 2:30 pm
jj from brooklyn says:
ww is wrong. regulation is an issue and HAS killed business. but walmart — whose entry into a community is often subsidized one way or another — is unquestionably a killer of small business.
Jan. 11, 2011, 3:04 pm
JudahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
Regulation killed manufacturing in this country. Oh really give some examples. I'm ignorant to facts sometimes. So please, I would love jobs, & more jobs. Especially in some of the area where Walmart is proposing. So please what are some of these job killing regulations.
Jan. 11, 2011, 3:24 pm
michwate from midwood says:
Regulation Regulation drive away jobs?
5 day work week
8 hour day
time and half overtime pay

Im proud of these regulations.
Jan. 11, 2011, 6:29 pm
Mat from Marine Park says:
I have to laugh at "Four Sparrows" - just across the parkway, they are "protecting the ground nesting birds and the native salt marsh environment". Get your story straight, either it's "Forever Wild" or it's Walmart and a dumping ground. What hypocrisy!
Jan. 11, 2011, 6:31 pm
Phil from Park Slope says:
Oh dear God. Do we really need yet another big box retailer. Why is this necessary? Enough already. Keep the money local I don't want to give my money to Arkansas
Jan. 11, 2011, 8:16 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
Prediction: Once Lew from Brooklyn gets a taste of Wal-Mart campaign cash, he'll be singing a new (low-wage) tune.
Jan. 11, 2011, 9:02 pm
JD from Flatbush says:
Walmart will create jobs and increase tax dollars. the issue with killing manufacturing is in the past. And it certainly wasn't only Walmart. It's every American company you can think of!
Jan. 11, 2011, 9:21 pm
Resident from of PPW says:
Just curious, how is Walmart any different than Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and other mega retailers? Since when should the government be in the position to deny a company the opportunity to set up their business? Walmart operates in Long Island and NJ and yet somehow, there are small businesses that remain open. Sometimes, competition is good.
Jan. 12, 2011, 7:55 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
Target at many of its stores are Unionized as are some BB and B's. Walmart is the single largest importer in the world from China and has made many of its suppliers(I am told) close factories in the US to manufacture in China at prices it is willing to pay. Many of the Walmart employees are so poorly paid as to be on Medicaid.
that is why in my opinion, it is different. NY has traditionally opposed large block stores for the same far back as when Korvettes was headquartered in NY(I was a VP at Korvettes)
Jan. 12, 2011, 9:05 am
Resident from of PPW says:
So now I shouldn't patronize a store because it isn't unionized? Oh please lets not go there. People have a choice whether or not if they want to work (and shop) at a Walmart.
Jan. 12, 2011, 11:03 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
You asked how they are different...and the lack of health insurance and Medicaid level wages is something also the fact that they are virulently anti-union(and have been known to lock in their cleaning staff-and hire illegal aliens to do that work as well) are how they are different. The fact
that they become the last employer in town with lots of Moms and Pops going out of business is a reason for some people not to go there. There are lots of people with a 9% plus unemployment who have no real choice in where they work...once they have any job...
Not being unionized is one issue. It like prefering UPS or is Union and one is not(except the Pilots)...
Jan. 12, 2011, 2:50 pm
The Dude from Dyker Heights says:
Can that area even support a Walmart? I guess its close to the Belt. Might be one of the first Walmarts to close.
Jan. 12, 2011, 5:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Why does the location and ownership not surprise me? This is the same FCR who is already destroying Brooklyn with their previous and current projects. Ratner doesn't even have to worry about opening his own money for this because the taxpayers will do it for him. Much of those in where he owns happens to be corporations. If you don't believe me, just go over to both his Atlantic Center and Terminal Malls over in Fort Greene and see what businesses are there, because I can tell you that they are not local businesses. Then again, Ratner is going to China as part of an EB-5 program for the Atlantic Yards, so there is a lot of things he has in common with Walmart here, and that is using the Chineese to promote yourselves. Another thing that Ratner and Walmart have in common is the most they will give to the people is nothing but minium wage jobs and nothing more.
Jan. 12, 2011, 6:30 pm
Jay from pslope says:
I see that walmart people are on here posting. so typical. Walmart sucks in every since of what the word means.
Jan. 12, 2011, 6:58 pm
Resident from of PPW says:
Sid, I apologize, but I must be missing the point. Yes, it would be the right thing for any employer (especially one of the largest in the world) to offer health insurance. With Obama-care coming, I am on the fence with this issue. However, I thought that employers are legally liable to pay at least a minimum wage? If it is too low for some people, don't take the job. Are there any instances where people started out at the bottom of the Walmart job-chain and moved up due to their hard work? As far as having an impact on mom & pop stores, in the Long Island and New Jersey Walmarts, they co-exists within their communities. At the end of the day, I enjoy (ok, too strong a word) shopping at Walmart. What I am getting tired of is politicians who make decisions for me. What about the public deciding what they want to do. If people don't want to shop at Walmart for whatever reason, it is their right, shop elsewhere. But since when should politicians "blackmail" businesses into complying with rules and regulations that are above the legal requirements?
Jan. 13, 2011, 10:23 am
Al M. from Bay Ridge says:
Go Walmart at Gateway II! I am all for it. With prices rising all around us, we need a place to help stretch a buck. Walmart is everywhere across the USA, BUT not in NYC. Does that make sense? Are the existing box stores that are here now afraid of the competition?
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:47 am
nancy from coney says:
about stinking time
they have one upstate
i go there when ever i can
i think what ever money they make should stay in bklyn
and think of jobs it will create
bring it cant wait 2 go there
Jan. 16, 2011, 11:01 pm
judy from marine park says:
The neighborhood needs something. Maybe this is it.

The golden gate motel has been around for ever it will be a pubic schol/
Feb. 11, 2011, 5:19 pm
david from park slope says:
cmon walmart... more choices... freedom .... u commies hate freedom... go to cuba cowards... no wlamarts there and everyone has a job or they starve... great system
Sept. 5, 2011, 12:04 am

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