Aug. 11, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Two Queens lawmakers have introduced a bill that aims to preserve the buildings on the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge in Kew Gardens and protect small businesses situated on it from being evicted.
The near 100-year-old bridge has fallen into disrepair in recent years and repairs are needed to the storefronts and buildings that sit atop it.
Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal and State Sen. Leroy Comrie said these much-needed repairs could put the buildings at risk from being torn down or redesigned differently.
The lawmakers said that the bridge and the buildings need to be protected due to their historic architecture. They said that their bill would ensure that the original designs are maintained when it is repaired and that the store owners that operate there would get the first right to return when the work is completed.
They said that the bridge – which goes between Austin and Grenfell streets – is an integral part of community life and a hub for business and culture.
Rosenthal and Comrie said that the current tenants were not to blame for the condition of the buildings and should be given a fair opportunity to continue operating after the work is completed.
“After years of neglect by the MTA, it would be unconscionable to destroy the livelihoods of these small business owners who have become family and neighbors to thousands,” Rosenthal said in a statement.
The lawmakers said that their bill follows on from legislation they helped pass in 2018 that stopped the historic bridge from being demolished when it was found to have structural problems. The MTA had initially indicated that it would tear it down but was able to fix it by stabilizing the two iron platforms that prop it up.
Comrie said that the bridge is a “one-of-a-kind architectural gem in the heart of Queens,” which needs to be preserved.
“It is the centerpiece of a community and the foundation for many folks’ livelihoods,” Comrie added.