Forest Hills businesses say JetBlue’s departure is hurting business

April 09, 2012 12:30PM

Following JetBlue’s relocation from Forest Hills to Long Island City last week, operators of Forest Hills businesses say they already feel the pinch from the departure, the Daily News reported. Rikin Patel, who works at the snack shop in the lobby of the office building that formerly housed JetBlue, told the News that he’s seen a 50 percent decline in business since JetBlue left. In fact, according to the News, he’s covering store operating costs out of pocket.

“It’s too early to tell if we’ll survive,” Patel told the News. “Everybody’s struggling.”

As The Real Deal reported last week, JetBlue moved to a 200,000-square-foot office space at 27-01 Queens Plaza North in Long Island City to combine offices. The new space houses the former Forest Hills employees — a number of over 900 people who worked on 10 floors — and approximately 70 employees from the Darien, Conn. outpost.

Even Angelo Rosselli, the owner of a nearby pizza shop, doesn’t know if his business can stay afloat either with a 30 percent decrease in business since JetBlue left, he told the News.

According to Ken Siegel, the international managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, who is in charge of marketing JetBlue’s old office space, there is “intense” interest for new tenants to move in to Muss Development’s office tower. However, sources to the News said that Plaza College, which is a Jackson Heights-based business and health school, is eyeing one of the vacant floors. In addition, the News reported, the Queens district attorney’s office is looking at empty floors in an effort to consolidate its offices located in other areas.

“However, any talk of the district attorney’s moving is merely speculation at this point as no specific location has been selected,” a spokesperson for the Queens DA told the News. [NYDN]