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Rego Center spurs worries

Mitigating traffic around Rego Center should be a top priority for City Councilman-elect Danny Dromm, members of Community Board 6 told the incoming legislator at their meeting last week.

CB 6 Chairman Joseph Hennessy, other members and area resident Hersh Parekh said they were worried that the Rego Park shopping center slated to open in February could bring with it burdensome traffic. Rego Center will include such stores as Costco, T.J. Maxx and Kohl’s.

“We’re very concerned about the traffic,” Hennessy told Dromm. “We’d like to meet with the developer and the [city] Department of Transportation.”

Dromm, who will replace outgoing Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights), attended the CB 6 meeting Dec. 9 to introduce himself to board members. Councilwoman-elect Karen Koslowitz represents the majority of the area covered by CB 6, but Dromm has constituents in part of Rego Park. He will represent the area where Rego Center will be located.

The center is a 6.6-acre site at the intersection of Junction Boulevard and 62nd Drive next to the Long Island Expressway and directly behind the Rego Park Mall, which includes an Old Navy, a Sears and a Bed, Bath & Beyond. The site is managed by Vornado but owned by Alexander’s Inc.

According to a Nov. 2 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the development will be a 600,000-square-foot shopping center on four levels and will include a parking deck with about 1,400 spaces. As of October, 138,000 square feet had been leased to Costco, 134,000 square feet leased to Century 21 and 132,000 square feet leased to Kohl’s.

District Manager Frank Gulluscio and Hennessy said Vornado officials told them T.J. Maxx had also signed a lease.

Parekh, a Rego Park resident, said at the meeting he wasworried that traffic from the center could make parking impossible for residents.

“I know traffic is a very, very big concern for people,” Dromm said. “We need to get on top of that.”

Dromm told community board members that education was one of his main concerns and said he hoped to work to bring more seats to a district notorious for its crowded classrooms.

“Education has always been my passion,” said Dromm, a former public school teacher.

The incoming lawmaker said he also wanted to work on health care issues in the borough, particularly in light of the closure of St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst. Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica closed at the same time as St. John’s last February. Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills closed not long before St. John’s and Mary Immaculate shut their doors.

Dromm said he is looking into bringing in health facilities to “alleviate overcrowding in area hospitals.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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