Talk about a big-box lawsuit!
A Bensonhurst restaurant owner is threatening to sue the city for letting the MTA place giant storage containers on the street near his business — an eyesore that he says is blocking his store from view, taking up important parking spaces, attracting hooligans and trash, and costing him thousands of dollars in revenue.
Avdi Nikovic, owner of the Bay Ridge Café on Bay Ridge Avenue between New Utrecht and 16th avenues, said he is talking to lawyers and considering a suit against the city for letting the MTA put two containers in front of his restaurant while it did track work on the elevated train over New Utrecht.
“I understand they have to finish the repairs and make it better, but why I have to pay and lose my business?” Nikovic added that what’s left of his customers get a view of the graffiti-covered containers from the café’s windows.
Nikovic said that the containers are also a magnet for ne’er-do-wells who hang out, drink, urinate in front of his store, and that the boxes take up four parking spaces.
The MTA says it can’t move the storage containers, which will remain there until the spring of 2012 when the work on tracks from Ninth Avenue to Bay 50th Street is completed.
“They are used to store materials necessary for the construction project,” said Kevin Ortiz, of the MTA. “To relocate the utilities is cost-prohibitive.”
But Nikovic says the containers are cost-prohibitive to him as well.
He claims business is down so much since the containers went in two years ago that he owes seven months in rent and about $36,000 in past due bills, including utilities and gas.
Since the containers arrived, Nikovic’s said he has called 311 and complained to Community Board 10 to no avail — so the lawsuit is the next logical step.
After NY1 reported his problems in a cablecast and online, the agency finally moved the containers, but just one parking space down the block — and closer to a corner grocery store.
Now, a worker at that store said the boxes are hurting that store’s bottom line.
“Business has been down,” the person said. “[The containers] just make people’s lives miserable.”
And the stores are not the only ones complaining — residents say they are fed up with having to clean up garbage around the containers, and now have to deal with large rats.
“There was a rat the size of a cat under my car,” said John Burgio. “I lived here for 45 years and never seen that before.”
The MTA declined to comment on the alleged rat and litter problem.