Mill Basin is now a handy land, thanks to the opening of its new Lowe’s.
After months of idling, the home improvement and decor Goliath opened its doors behind Kings Plaza at the crack of dawn on Friday, to cheers from a delighted chorus of shoppers.
“I couldn’t wait for this store to open,” beamed Robert Aronowitz, who was among the half-dozen early birds cruising the gleaming store and perusing its freshly-stocked aisles.
Like an explorer on a maiden voyage, Aronowitz pored over everything, from triple-A batteries and light bulbs to full kitchen and bathroom sets, wheeling an oversized shopping cart in which he’d plunked a new garbage pail -— the first of many more purchases he plans to make at his new home-away-from-home, the do-it-yourselfer said.
“Each morning on my way to work, I would drive by and ask, ‘When is this place opening?’” said the handyman, whose prayers were answered last week when 120 Lowe’s employees — most of them area residents — tended to customers inside the sprawling, 94,000-square-foot retail space.
Aronowitz isn’t alone in singing Lowe’s praises.
Jim Holzer, a local electrical contractor who stopped by to pick up some locks and switches, said the new store was a “welcome addition to the community.”
“It’s going to be a great place to browse and pick up a lot of stuff,” he said.
The store’s arrival, however, comes attached with a trailer-sized controversy of its own: it is just a parking lot away from its biggest big-box competitor, Home Depot, which has hogged the shopper-ripe area for more than a decade with a satellite store on Avenue U, and will have to joust with Lowe’s for trade now. Neighbors, too, are none too happy about the prospect of increased traffic in their compact community.
Community Board 18, whose chairman said the store would be a magnet for motor vehicles, has even petitioned the city to erect pedestrian walkways over Flatbush Avenue, near Avenue U, as well as directly across from Lowe’s on Avenue U, between E. 56th and Pearson streets.
“It’s expected to bring 2,500 additional cars to the area during the week, and an additional 3,500 cars on the weekend,” said Sol Needle, whose request the city has yet to address.
Shoppers, such as Aronowitz, remain unfazed by the threat of congestion.
“There’s traffic all over the place,” he scoffed.
The new store will, certainly, be closer to southern Brooklyn residents than its counterpart on Second Avenue and 10th Street in Gowanus, he noted, adding that he “hated driving all the way down there.”
Fellow shopper Vinny Romano couldn’t care less about how the new store affected Brooklynites. The Queens resident was in the market for a new air conditioner, and found one at the Lowe’s Web site, which directed him to the Mill Basin store.
“It’s great, everything is in stock,” he marveled.
To complete its grand opening, Lowe’s will hold a traditional board-cutting ceremony on July 29 at 10 am. Then, on July 31, former New York Mets’ first baseman Keith Hernandez will sign autographs, from 10 am to noon.
Lowe’s of Brooklyn Kings Plaza [5602 Avenue U between E. 56th and Pearson streets in Mill Basin, (800) 445-6937]. For more information visit www.lowes.com.