Residents eager to help decide the fate of the reconstructed Bruson Building crowded into the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights Thursday evening, causing the town hall’s organizers to add extra chairs and bump out the back wall to make room.
The meeting, spearheaded by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), was organized to gather community input regarding the fate of the Bruson Building, which burned down in a five-alarm fire last April, displacing tenants such as Plaza College, which has a new campus in Forest Hills, Armondo’s Italian Restaurant, which will reopen in February on Northern Boulevard and Frank’s Pharmacy, which reopened three blocks away in October.
Suggestions from residents, many of which were written on pieces of paper and read by Peralta, included a Jewish deli, a bakery, an American-style restaurant, a medical facility, an interfaith center, a bookstore, a Hallmark store, a pediatric urgent care center, health facility, a Housing Works Thrift Shop and a Wells Fargo bank.
Many were averse to the idea of more 99-cent stores, or more ethnic eateries or shops. Many were also against a fast food chain coming into the building.
A popular idea, which was brought up again and again throughout the meeting, was to have a Trader Joe’s. But, some residents were concerned the grocery store would bring more people into the already-congested neighborhood.
Resident Jimmy Wohl brought up another suggestion that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd: A co-working space to attract area entrepreneurs and thought-leaders, similar to what exist throughout Manhattan and other parts of Western Queens.