Neighborhoods decline when our city’s main streets decline, and the area tumbles into a darkened abyss. Just look around.
Remember when we once had a thriving Bay Parkway, a great neighborhood street, replete with theater, banks, realtors, shoe stores, clothes for gents, for ladies and kids; eateries in Italian, Chinese and Kosher flavors, and home food tastes. There was even a viable store at the subway entrance, which is now long emptied.
About the only remnant of yesteryear was the OTB (R.I.P.).
The cause of all the demise, you ask?
Look no further then shopping centers; it was the privileged shops at the foot of Bay Parkway off the Belt Parkway, with its attractive Belt exits and entrances, with free parking and free of harassing meter-agents. For the car-bound, it’s a shopper’s paradise.
This was our borough’s first city-sanctioned syphon, milking shoppers off the Parkway. It drew the major shops, supermarkets and even two banks; one of which failed, uninsured, with some of our own investments.
The biggest and first borough collapse was the sham plans for Kings Plaza that milked Brooklyn’s longest Flatbush Avenue economically dry.
Starting at the Manhattan Bridge and travelling south, all of Flatbush Avenue retail centers were sucked lifeless by the 12-story plaza garage that offered immediate “free” parking … until they got us in. Then they initiated their two-bucks a car fee.
One by one, Kings Highway fashion stores closed — or relocated into the mall.
Once mighty Fulton Street was now a mite. Its top theaters, the Paramount, the Fox, the Strand, its El Tinge, faded into memory. One even became a college. My own Long Island University.
But after that invasion, new raiders are hovering with open jaws, trying to chew up the rest of our Belt Parkway.
Meantime, Home Depot successfully invaded the Cropsey exit by tricking our own Planning Commission into pretending that the old bungalows were really in Coney Island.
But we all know they were in Bath Beach.
At City Hall, during Home Depot hearings, we watched a lawyer from Home Depot instruct two of her witnesses as she opened up two new white-shirts and helped them dress.
“Just tell them you live in Coney Island and your daddy needs a job,” she instructed them.
As she knotted their ties, she continued.
“Remember to tell them that Coney Island would be really helped because so many families can’t find work.”
They went on stage later and recited their tale.
The plans went through, and now this Home Depot linked the stores in New Jersey down to our Brooklyn’s overcrowded Belt Parkway system, into their growing chain.
Onto Third Avenue, then on to Ozone Park, Queens, and another that snuck into a giant center in East New York where a a boulevard named for that great Dodger pitcher, Carl Erskine was built.
We will try to probe how they got an overpass directly into their private shopping center, alleging that it would only be a small shopping space for a low-income housing development.
Remember that Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway was built in the throes of the depression, to facilitate traffic around our city’s most populated borough, not for Home Depot to continue their march and takeover.
Stay tuned! The daily tie-ups on the Downtown Gowanus needs investigation.