Local Astoria Businesses have begun to suffer from the MTA’s shutdown of the the 39 Avenue and Broadway subway stops to renovate the 100-year-old stations in July.
According to the MTA’s repair timeline the stations are not expected to open until next year February.
“We are struggling,” said Antonia Martinez the manager of BB café which sits a block away from the station. “Our old customers do not come here because the station is closed. I do not even have money to pay the rent.”
BB café opened in the neighborhood in 2014 under the name ‘Our Coffee Shop’ at a smaller location. In May rising rents forced the owner to find a new space, so she moved near the 39Ave station, but it is getting difficult, said Martinez.
Within four blocks of the station are at least six hotels, with many other service businesses serving local and tourist populations. The ARC, an apartment complex with about 400 new apartments is also a block away from the station.
Beija Flor a Brazilian restaurant that has been in business for about five years in the neighborhood is also feeling the change.
“It is an issue. People stop coming from the area because they stop at 36Ave. They want to find something close by,” said Leonardo Amaral, 31, a bartender at the restaurant.
The deserted streets do not have much foot traffic. Local grocery shops see fewer people coming through their doors as the residents cannot access the stores due to the closure.
After opening a year ago, Nagi Alborati Candies and Groceries store has seen a drop of about 40 percent in its business since the shutdown according to store manager Mohammad Alberety, 56.
The closure is affecting local businesses, but some businesses are optimistic. Dr. Joseph Asbery, 48, who owns and runs Sharp Lens Photography LLC, a construction site photography business from his apartment is finding ways around it.
“My clients Uber it or they will get off at 36Ave or Queens Plaza and I pick them up,” said Asbery, who is also a veteran and an adjunct professor at Metropolitan College of New York.
“We are going to wait,” said Raymond Moura, 54, the owner.
Similar renovations had halted the commute on the 30th and 36th Avenue stops for eight months which also affected local businesses. The MTA reopened the stations in late June.
“Broadway has now been dealt the same fate. At a time when transit is already terrible, and our small businesses are suffering, we need constructive policies — not disruptive ones,” said City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside).