Can the developer of a planned Williamsburg retail mall raise enough cash to buy the land?

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The retail mall planned for the site of an abandoned Shell gas station at 351 South 1st Street in Williamsburg is already moving along despite the fact that developer Meir Babaev doesn’t yet own the land. The Queens developer has wanted to turn the industrial lot on the corner of Keap and Grand streets into a complex called Triangle Court for the past four years, he told the Brooklyn Paper. He said he plans to purchase the property from owner Miriam Karsh within 18 months and break ground in June, though some have raised doubts about whether Babaev has the ability to raise enough cash for such an undertaking. “The near-term potential sure looks good for this turning from an abandoned gas station to a vacant lot,” said Ward Dennis, chair of Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee. The city issued permits this month for the demolition of the long-vacant gas station. Movie theater company United Artists had been in talks to build a theater on the site in 1992, but that plan fell through. Babaev has no tenants yet for his Triangle Court, but said he is in talks with a pharmacy, an electronics shop, a convenience store and a restaurant. He wants to build 36 units of housing above his shopping center “several years down the line,” he said. [Brooklyn Paper]

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