Cornerstone: We will try to move tenant businesses in clusters

The realty firm hired by the city to work with tenant businesses at Willets Point if the project is approved said they will make efforts to move businesses who rely on one another together in clusters if possible.

The city recently hired Cornerstone Realty Group, a firm that has experience doing business relocation at projects like Hudson Yards and Metrotech in the Bronx, to aid in moving businesses who are forced to relocate to make way for the city’s massive redevelopment project at Willets Point, should it be approved.

In an interview with the ITT, President of Cornerstone Realty Group Gary Curry said while the company is currently precluded from conducting outreach to the tenant businesses in the area, it is confident it will be able to get more than 200 tenant businesses relocated within New York City and will make every effort to move some together.

“It’s not going to be an easy job, but we know that. This is a job that a lot of people don’t like to do, but we do it and we like to do it,” Curry said. “I think it’s a challenge we’re up to.”

Curry said Cornerstone is legally prohibited from working with the tenant business owners prior to the city working out deals with their landlords, a process that has been going on for several months to some success.

In the meantime, Curry said the firm has been conducting research in the area and letting business owners know that it expects to be helping them find new locations in the near future.

He said If the city’s redevelopment plans for Willets Point are passed by the City Council, Cornerstone will be able to begin negotiations with businesses and act as a no-fee real-estate broker to find businesses available space in other areas of the city.

“We’ll go back in and start finding out the square footages of the businesses,” Curry said. “We’ll see what they have there and what they want to do, where they want to go. If they want to relocate together we’ll try to put them together.”

He said Cornerstone has conducted similar negotiations with other city projects, including Hudson Yards in Manhattan, the redevelopment of Times Square, Metrotech in the Bronx and various projects for the New York City School Construction Authority.

Curry said on other projects, the firm has been able to move businesses who rely on one another in clusters, which has been a major concern of tenant business leaders at Willets Point. He said he does not see why Willets Point would be any different.

“No doubt about it. We’ll try and see if we can put a number of these tenants together,” he said.

Curry said it is difficult to put a time estimate on how long it would take to move the businesses who seek relocation.

“In the past projects like this have taken anywhere from six months to a year,” he said. “But we can’t put a time frame on it at this point because we cannot really dive into the site until the project is approved.”

The city has also announced initiatives to retrain workers via a Workforce Assistance Program being sponsored by LaGuardia Community College, which has been received with mixed feelings from the local workers.

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