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Sheepshead Bay Road not what is used to be, say locals

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It’s not your grandpa’s Sheepshead Bay Road.

Residents of Sheepshead Bay are lamenting the booming growth along its eponymous road. The once-quaint thoroughfare lined with low-rise mom-and-pop shops is now a busy, built-up commercial corridor in a neighborhood that some locals feel like they’re being priced out of. It’s barely recognizable anymore, said one nostalgic resident, who regrets that the neighborhood her children will grow up in won’t have the small-town feel she experienced.

“It’s very tough,” said Marina Maystrovich. “I’ll have to tell my kids what is used to be like.”

And she’s not alone.

On April 17, someone posted in a public Sheepshead Bay Facebook page inquiring about a new glass building with a “space for lease” sign on front of it being built along the road. The post sparked dozens of comments reminiscing about old stores that used to be there, with some claiming the now-glassy location used to be Perry’s Department Store in the ’60s and ’70s.

The discussion prompted Maystrovich to wistfully recall her childhood in the ’90s in a neighborhood she fears has become a victim of its own success.

“I remember as a kid walking into mom-and-pop stores. They’re still there, but I think so much competition is raising the rent prices,” she said. “People are going out of business if they don’t own their building.”

The Sheepshead Bay resident, who is considering moving to Staten Island or Westchester because rising rents, worries that the neighborhood’s success will lead it to the same fate of other gentrifying parts of the borough.

“The neighborhood is booming,” she said. “It’s developing into something beautiful like Park Slope,”

Many of Maystrovich’s neighbors along the bustling thoroughfare agree. One 12-year Brighton Beach resident particularly misses the El Greco Diner on the corner with Emmons Avenue, which was demolished in 2015 to make way for a seven-story condominium.

“There used to be a lot of restaurants there,” said Martin Gangursky, citing the H&S Hebrew National Deli and El Greco. “But they’re all gone.”

Gangursky said that small businesses in the area were whacked with a double-whammy of dealing with new, expensive buildings going up during the rebuilding following the 2012 superstorm.

“I don’t feel good about it at all,” he said. “One reason for the changes and high rents is the Sandy damage.”

The 28-story Voorhies Avenue tower, which can be easily seen from Sheepshead Bay Road, is another example of the area’s changing character.

A significant part of Sheepshead Bay Road is a C4-2 zoning district, which favors retail storefronts. The floor-area ratio for this zone is 3.4, which means the total floor area of buildings can be nearly three-and-a-half the size of the lot.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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