From the Times Ledger:
Merchants on 37th Road between Broadway and 74th Street say they have seen their business drop by 50 percent or more since the city Department of Transportation has rerouted the bus routes and turned the block into what is planned to be a pedestrian plaza.
The block, home to the closed Eagle Theater, is set to become a pedestrian plaza with bike lanes as part of the DOT’s Jackson Heights Neighborhood Transportation Study.
A few weeks ago, the block was closed to traffic, repainted and given new signs saying only bicycles were allowed to travel through. Scott Gastel of the DOT said granite blocks, tables and chairs will be added to the plaza. He said this was done in response to community requests for more public space in the district and that the project has been supported by Community Board 3 and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).
Saed Tayyab, manager of the jewelry and watch store Moonlite Int. Inc., on the corner of 37th Road and Broadway, said DOT’s plan has already been detrimental to the businesses on the block.
He said the plan has taken away multiple parking spots in an area starved for parking, and the Q47 and Q49 buses, which used to travel down the block, have now been rerouted. Tayyab said 50 percent of his customers are non-local and use buses or cars to shop in the area.
Other business owners questioned whether the area was appropriate for a pedestrian plaza. Rita Kamdar, who works at another phone card store, said the block attracts beggars and drug users, and she believed the plaza would encourage them to stay longer.