Demolition begins on Albee Sq. Mall

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Demolition of a Fulton Mall site located at a key Flatbush Avenue intersection commenced last week, this paper has learned.

However, the developers who bought the property in a deal that included city approval say there is no news on a groundbreaking for their massive proposal for the site or leases signed with any possible retailers.

The site includes the Albee Square Mall and is located where Dekalb Avenue and Fulton Street intersect, and extends as a parking lot at Willoughby Street just off Flatbush Avenue.

“To date, the old Albee Square Mall has been vacated entirely, and demolition of the neighboring parking structure has been completed,” said Eric Gerard, spokesperson for the development team that includes Acadia Realty Trust, the MacFarlane Partners and P/A Associates.

“Demolition of the old mall has commenced, and will continue over the next several weeks,” he added.

Gerard said the development team continues to work closely with the city to finalize the project’s components and complete the design review.

Current plans call for a mixed-use development project dubbed City Point to occupy the site.

The planned project comprises over 500,000 square feet of new retail space, office space, and a mix of market-rate and affordable housing,

The property was sold in February 2007 for about $125 million to former Albee Square Mall owner Joe Sitt and his company Thor Equities.

However, Sitt actually sold the remaining portion of a 70-year lease, as the city actually owns the land and therefore was involved in the sale.

Since the deal involved a lease agreement on a piece of city-owned property, a public hearing was required before the developer could move forward.

Under the terms of the new lease agreement, the developers can buy the land from the city in 25 years for $20 million.

Meanwhile, Ilana Berger, executive director of the non-profit organization FUREE (Families United For Racial and Economic Equality), said the organization has contacted the development team asking that some of the 70 displaced businesses from the Albee Square Mall and surrounding neighborhood be included in any retail plans.

Among the shopkeepers FUREE is working with is Maisha Morales, who owned Gallery Religious Supply, a store displaced from the mall after it closed.

“They [developers] forced us out, with no assistance, no money for relocation, nothing. My business had been in the mall for years. Some had been here, building a customer base and relationships with the community since the mall opened in 1979, and they just kicked us out,” said Morales.

Berger said FUREE has yet to hear a response.

Gerard responded that negotiations with local and national retailers are ongoing, as are discussions with prominent office tenants for the office space.

Updated 3:47 pm, October 19, 2011
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