Infamous anti-development Queens landlord dies

Rita Stark blocked attempts to develop her shopping center on Mott Avenue

TRD New York /
Dec.December 27, 2016 06:10 PM

Thriftway Shopping Center on Mott Avenue

Rita Stark, a Queens landlord who critics say worked to block a $91 million revitalization plan for Far Rockaway, died. She left her extensive multifamily holdings to her brother and two sons.

Stark died in October, DNAinfo reported. She owned properties in the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Hollis and Far Rockaway and throughout the city.

Stark’s property, the Thriftway Shopping Center on Mott Avenue, had become a symbol for the decline of downtown Far Rockaway. The storefronts remained empty, but Stark repeatedly backed out of deals to sell or develop the property, according to the publication. Many in the local community had hoped development would lead to jobs and economic growth. In February, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at $91 million investment for the downtown area.

“I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t want to make money, especially someone in real estate,” said Jonathan Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14. He added that he’d received dozens of calls from people who wanted to develop the shopping center or lease stores in Stark’s shopping center. He said Stark would always pull out of the deals at the last minute.

A spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation said it remains committed to the redevelopment of downtown Far Rockaway.

“We’re hopeful that whoever takes over management of these properties will share our commitment and will help activate them in a way that benefits the community,” the spokesperson told the website.

Last year, Stark  sold a two-building rental complex known as Arlington Village in East New York for $30 million to a group of investors led by Eli Tabak of Bluestone Group. [DNAinfo]Miriam Hall

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