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Rumors of prolonged Clark Street subway station closure have Brooklyn Heights businesses on edge

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https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/04/29/rumors-of-prolonged-clark-street-subway-station-closure-have-brooklyn-heights-businesses-on-edge/

Rumors are all that local business owners have to go on about a potential long-term closure of the Clark Street subway station in Brooklyn Heights.

The station, served by the 2 and 3 train, is rumored to be on the list for closure to make repairs to three elevators that descend 10 stories underground. The agency hasn’t confirmed a plan, but if the information leaked by NYC Transit employees to business owners within the station are true, some of the shops might have to fold. Many of them have operated out of the arcade at the St. George Tower at the corner of Henry and Clark streets for decades.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” said Fernando Castano, who has worked for a shoe repair shop in the arcade, Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master, for more than 18 years. His boss, sitting nearby, didn’t want his name in the paper but said he agreed with Castano.

While New York City Transit employees have been speculating out loud about the MTA’s plans for a year-long shutdown to repair the station’s three ailing elevators, the agency is not sharing this information with the businesses that depend on the station’s subway commuters to make a living. Roughly 1.6 million commutes began at the station in 2017, according to NYC Transit figures.

Castano said he was worried. “We won’t make the rent” without foot traffic, he said.

Fernando Castano, who has worked at the Clark Street subway station’s shoe repair shop, Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master, for more than 18 years, said the station’s rumored year-long closure could put the shop out of business. 

Also in the arcade are a hair salon (The Cutting Den, in operation for more than 90 years), plus a news stand, Cuban coffee shop, market and sushi restaurant. The businesses pay rent to St. George Associates.

None of them have heard anything official about the plan. According to the rampant rumors, however, the station could shut down completely in January.

“No one has said anything about it,” said Andrew Sabba, owner and operator of Cafécito To Go.

Sabba, who grew up in Brooklyn Heights, spent almost 15 years in Miami and “wanted to bring that flavor of Cuban style coffee and pastries to Brooklyn Heights,” he said. “It’s a good thing in a subway arcade for grab and go — coffee, pastries on the way to work. People are loving it. Business has been good. People are just starting to discover us.”

Sabba says 80 percent of his business comes from commuters. “Without the train it’s pretty much done. I just started this business over a month ago. They gave me no indication.”

Sabba said that luckily, his lease is up in January. “So I’ll see if I move locations, or …”

He thinks that if the MTA and the city don’t compensate the businesses for the lack of customers, then St. George Associates should.

“There’s no real point in staying open if the subway’s not open,” he said.

After numerous breakdowns and several incidents with the elevators, including one last October that required passengers to escape the elevator car through an opening in the ceiling, Borough President Eric Adams urged NYC Transit to commence repairs as soon as possible.

But even Borough Hall has had trouble getting details of the plan from the agency.

“For whatever reason, proactive transparency continues to be a challenge for the MTA,” Adams said in a statement on Monday. “Repairs to the unreliable elevators at the Clark Street subway station are a health and safety imperative that cannot be deferred any longer, and commuters and small businesses need to know how to plan for the construction to come as early as possible. Even publicizing a timeline to finalizing a construction timeline would be appreciated at this point. I appreciate that New York City Transit is taking steps forward on this project, but those steps should be swifter and more visible.”

Brooklyn Heights resident Marty Feuerman told the Brooklyn Eagle that he heard the rumor from a station clerk, who told him that “the plan is to shut down the station 24/7 from around January 2020 to January 2021. He said they need to shut down, because they will be repairing all three elevators at the same time.” Feuerman said a second clerk also told him about the closure.

A ten-story flight of stairs at Clarke Street station is used only in emergencies.

Feuerman said the closure wouldn’t inconvenience him so much, “But I do feel bad about the businesses by the arcade. Also, elderly people may find the walk from Borough Hall a bit daunting.”

Feuerman added, “It would be great if the work (and the shut-down) could be done only at nights when fewer people and businesses are affected, since the businesses are mostly closed anyway at that time.”

NYC Transit told the Eagle that the agency would be issuing a statement within a couple of weeks on the project.

According to rumor, NYC Transit will be awarding a contract for the elevator repairs in July.

The impacts could be felt by nearby stations. Though 1.6 million commutes originated at Clark Street station, ridership was down considerably in 2017 due to weekend closures for repairs caused by Superstorm Sandy. During that same period, A-train ridership at nearby High Street station went up. The next closest subway station, the large Court Street/Borough Hall station, logged 10.6 million journeys during the same time period, down slightly, as was subway ridership in general that year.

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Is Clark Street really 10 stories of stairs? I've only got off and on this station once when I was younger to see the fireworks for 4th of July so I don't remember how it looked like outside of the platform..

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It's a rumor and they complaining the MTA ain't say nothing.

 

You see if it was gonna happen tomorrow or next week I would see it reasonable but I guess I'm lost because it's more than half a year before it even begins if the rumor holds true.

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10 hours ago, MysteriousBtrain said:

It's a rumor and they complaining the MTA ain't say nothing.

 

You see if it was gonna happen tomorrow or next week I would see it reasonable but I guess I'm lost because it's more than half a year before it even begins if the rumor holds true.

Business leases are long-term, multi-year affairs, not like an apartment rental.

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A worse version of what happened with (the situation surrounding) the merchants of those stores up above the open cut portion of Newkirk Plaza (B)(Q).....Those business owners definitely have a gripe & real concern...

As for subway users, they'll make their way over to High st (A)(C) (like most in that neighborhood do anyway) & yes, even over to York st. (F)... When I first noticed how many people bike it out to York st through DUMBO, I was taken aback....

 

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1 hour ago, B35 via Church said:

A worse version of what happened with (the situation surrounding) the merchants of those stores up above the open cut portion of Newkirk Plaza (B)(Q).....Those business owners definitely have a gripe & real concern...

As for subway users, they'll make their way over to High st (A)(C) (like most in that neighborhood do anyway) & yes, even over to York st. (F)... When I first noticed how many people bike it out to York st through DUMBO, I was taken aback....

 

In fairness, York Street really isn't that far away. Getting there can be a bit strange, but that's it.

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20 minutes ago, Lex said:

In fairness, York Street really isn't that far away. Getting there can be a bit strange, but that's it.

I was referring to the clumsiness, or said strangeness of getting b/w the 2 areas & the number of bicyclists doing as such.... When I first started noticing said trend, it wasn't too long after DUMBO started becoming a tourist attraction.... Being someone that always known of the area around York st subway as being a straight up ghost town (well, save for the druggies & other undesirables that frequented the area), it was surprising to see.... Hell, now, I don't think anything of it....

Honestly, I didn't think DUMBO would take off the way it did, but that's neither here nor there.....

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On 4/30/2019 at 8:13 AM, MysteriousBtrain said:

It's a rumor and they complaining the MTA ain't say nothing.

 

You see if it was gonna happen tomorrow or next week I would see it reasonable but I guess I'm lost because it's more than half a year before it even begins if the rumor holds true.

The (MTA) are exploring their options at this point, so those employees shouldn't have said anything. Rumours are like wildfire, they spread out of control quickly.

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1 hour ago, Missabassie said:

The (MTA) are exploring their options at this point, so those employees shouldn't have said anything. Rumours are like wildfire, they spread out of control quickly.

...and nobody ever knows who starts these rumors; not even the person who started it :rolleyes:

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Those people in Brooklyn Heights will be alright. 

You have the: 

(A)(C) on High Street

(R) on Montague ( (N)(W) Rush Hours only)

(2)(3)(4)(5) at Borough Hall. 

(F) on York Street. 

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8 hours ago, Future ENY OP said:

Those people in Brooklyn Heights will be alright. 

You have the: 

(A)(C) on High Street

(R) on Montague ( (N)(W) Rush Hours only)

(2)(3)(4)(5) at Borough Hall. 

(F) on York Street. 

The riders will be, but the businesses are another story.

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4 hours ago, Lex said:

The riders will be, but the businesses are another story.

How much business did they lose with the weekend shutdowns?

And does (MTA) have a business interruption fund to reimburse for these losses?

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