Cortelyou Road station rehab will kill our business, merchants say

Commuters question Q’s top ranking in subway contest
CNG / Ben Muessig

Crumbling Q train stations at Beverley Road, Cortelyou Road, and Parkside Avenue are getting a $10 million makeover the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says will return them to their former glory, but outraged area merchants say the renovations will tie up straphangers and leave businesses in the red for up to a year.

“That’s going to be terrible for my business!” said Susan Siegal, owner of the recently opened craft outpost Brooklyn ART-ery when informed of the planned closure of the Cortelyou Road station. “Closing both Beverley and Cortelyou roads will make it really hard for businesses to survive.”

The MTA plans on shutting service at all three stations, one direction at a time, with the Coney Island-bound sides beginning in May through October 2013, and the Manhattan-bound sides from November 2013 through March 2014.

“By doing that we knock out about one year of construction time, it also saves a lot of security and safety issues,” said Andrew Inglesby, assistant director of community relations for the MTA. “But we’re saving money as well.”

But business owners fretted over the bigger picture.

“People from outside the neighborhood will just decide to buy things elsewhere and people who live here who walk by will not come by anymore,” said Siegal.

Subway activists, however, cheered the rehab.

“A lot of people are incredibly excited about this,” said Tim Thomas, an area blogger who lobbied the agency for years to repair the dilapidated Parkside Avenue — a once regal gateway to Prospect Park that was built in 1905.

The improvements include fixing broken cement, adding new handrails and lights, and re-doing staircases in the stations, in addition to re-plastering, priming and painting much of the wall space.

The agency will also install new columns at the Cortelyou and Beverley roads stations to address structural issues.

The renovations are being done with limited funds at the agency’s discretion, according to a spokesman.

“Albany doesn’t give us enough money to rehabilitate stations any more,” said MTA architect David Foell, who conceded the repairs would be less extensive than the $220 million overhaul of the five stations between Newkirk Avenue and Kings Highway.

“What we do now with the minimal amount of money that we have is to go to the stations in the worst conditions and repair only those,” Foell said.

All three stations date back to the early years of the city’s mass transit system, and subway watchdogs urged the MTA to preserve their unique and historic designs.

“I hope they consider what an opportunity has been given to them, and take advantage of it to really make something beautiful,” said Thomas. “What they did originally with this train line is pretty unique, but it’s up to the MTA to take some pride and say this is our history and we want to preserve it.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.