Brooklyn Boro

Century 21 buildings to be demolished, replaced by ‘Class A Retail’

March 8, 2022 Jaime DeJesus,
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The former Century 21 buildings in Bay Ridge are slated to be demolished.

The Commercial Observer first reported that the demolition permits were filed with the city’s Department of Buildings for the adjacent retail buildings between 448 and 460 86th St.

The vacant department store, which was a fixture in the community since 1961, closed in December 2020 after the Gindi family, which owns Century 21, announced that the chain had filed for bankruptcy and would close all of its 13 stores.

After an attempted comeback for the store, RIPCO Real Estate was chosen by ASG Equities, a privately owned and vertically integrated investment real estate company, to handle the leasing and marketing of its Bay Ridge Portfolio, which includes the site of the former Century 21 Department Store.

ASG Equities is owned by the Gindi family.

RIPCO Real Estate Vice Chairperson and Principal Gene Spiegelman told the Eagle about its plans.

“We are moving forward in the process to reposition what was the former Century 21 store,” he said. “It’s been a long process. It was determined that the correct way to reposition these assets that the family owns is to redevelop them. The goal is to create a modern Class A retail project.”

The plan, to tear down the former department store site and build modern retail projects, may take a while.

“It’s going to take a year from now to see the demolition part of the process through,” he said. “It’s a long process. We wouldn’t start construction until later 2023. The buildings aren’t coming down tomorrow. This is just a filing and step one with the city in the formalization of the project.”

He also talked about the neighborhood feeling the loss of a beloved department store.

“Everyone loves Century 21,” he said. “This is not just an investor that bought real estate. [The Gindi family] have been there for decades, and losing the business was very difficult and figuring out what to do.  But they thought through the process and the goal is to deliver a good variety of name-brand national retail uses. 

“We’re going to bring a mix of good retail back to 86th Street and revitalize and take it to the future. This is the first step to that process,” he said.

The company has a separate leasing plan for the nearby former TJ Maxx store at 502 86th St. and the parking garage at 415 88th St. These buildings won’t be demolished. 

Councilmember Justin Brannan (D- Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bath Beach) promised that big plans are being made for the 86th Street shopping area.

“The vibrancy of this corridor is absolutely crucial to our local economic ecosystem,” he wrote on March 8. “A rising tide lifts all boats: the busier 86th Street is, the better our smaller independent mom and pop shops and restaurants along 3rd and 5th avenues will do! The goal is to bring 86th Street back bigger and better than ever. And based upon ongoing conversations, in order to secure and attract fresh, new retail to the block, the old Century 21 buildings need a major renovation and more space. It also means more local jobs.”

Brannan added that the owners and local officials are working to attract high-quality commercial tenants that will help stimulate and ensure the neighborhood’s small business recovery and revival. 

Spiegelman said they have a lot of qualified prospects and hope to announce deals in the second half of this year, with the beginning of the project to follow.

When Century 21 closed, CEO Raymond Gindi blamed the move on insurance woes.

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