Though many proclaim Rockaway Beach (zip code 11693) as the heart of Rockaway’s renaissance since Superstorm Sandy, according to surrounding residents, there is an embarrassing eyesore that could use some work, Rockaway Commons, locally referred to as the Dayton Plaza.
“Disgusting!” “Filthy! “Dangerous!” These are words locals use to describe the heavily utilized 84,181 square feet shopping plaza near Beach 88th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, which features businesses like CVS, Rainbow, Dunkin Donuts, Popeyes and more. The plaza is privately owned and managed by real estate investment and management firm, Malachite Group. The company was formed in 1995 and currently owns and manages over four million square feet of neighborhood and community shopping centers throughout the United States.
Local resident, Dillon Banks, frustrated with the conditions of the shopping plaza, started an online petition on Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/newly-renovated-strip-mall-newly-renovated-and-sa) for locals to sign up, vent their concerns, and hopefully get the attention of local politicians and civic leaders, and of course the Malachite Group. Banks created the petition just six days ago, and already 247 people have signed it.
In the petition, Dillon states: “The mall, in its current state, is dirty and unsafe, and lacks quality stores. The parking lot needs to be repaved and marked. The entryway on both ends has sharp metal gratings that are missing and gaping holes. Panhandlers and dollar vans loiter all day, deterring potential customers. The mall needs a complete facelift and security. The local residents and visitors have spent millions in this dilapidated mall, and now is the time for the owners to give back and make this a respectable and safe place again.”
The Rockaway Times (RT) visited with some store owners and workers in the plaza, who for confidential reasons, did not want to want their names or places of business disclosed. According to one individual, rents in the plaza start from $7K/monthly and up, and for the money they are paying, some are not feeling compensated with how the overall property is maintained.
One worker said, “For the money being shelled out for rent here, we should be getting more such as security, a facelift for the storefronts, repaving of the parking lot and repainting of the parking lines. Folks want to blame the dilapidation and horrid conditions on the residents who live in Hammels, the housing project across the street, but that is totally unfair. They live here, and rely on this plaza for food, medical necessities, clothes and a lot more. We all need this plaza — the folks in Hammels, Dayton Towers, other residents from east and west ends of the area who all come here for their shopping needs and of course, our visitors. I just would like to see it be improved, especially in light of how the area is exploding commercially.”
RT reached out to Manny Malekan, owner of the Malachite Group, who refused to comment.
Both Edwin Williams, president of Arverne By The Sea’s (ABTS) Palmers Landing Homeowners Association and John Cori, president of Rockaway Beach Civic Association have actively reached out to other local leaders, including CB 14 board members, and are moving towards a cohesive effort to get questions answered and changes made.
Williams said, “It is going to take a united front from everyone to make the management company fix this place. I also want to implore our local councilmen, Donovan Richards and Eric Ulrich to come out and help us. Our residents need and deserve some answers on what can be done. All we desire is a clean and safe plaza for everyone to shop, and also be proud of when visitors come.”
By Kami-Leigh Agard
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