The city recently decommissioned the street and effectively gave it to the studio to encourage more movie and television production in Queens. But in February, Kaufman Astoria partnered with the LIC Flea & Food to form Astoria Flea & Food.
Area merchants fear the market will take away business and bring in vendors that do not pay rents and taxes. Likewise, there are street fairs on weekends throughout the summer hosted by local non-profits, who depend on the proceeds.
Larry Doorman, president of the Broadway Merchant Association, which represents close to 200 businesses, said the flea market will not benefit the community.
“It will hurt the businesses on Broadway,” he said.
Kevin Foley, president of the Steinway Astoria Partnership, declined to comment, but said his organization will be sending a letter to Kaufman Astoria Studios expressing their concerns this week.
However, Frank Arcabasciopres, president of the 30th Ave. Merchants, which represents 25 businesses, is in favor the flea market.
“I think it brings people into the community,” he said. “The neighborhood doesn’t get stale if you bring things in from the outside.”
Josh Schneps, president of LIC Flea & Food, said they have received positive feedback from elected officials, the Queens Economic Development Corporation and LIC Partnership.
“Through our experience of operating LIC Flea & Food, surrounding businesses have benefitted from the flea market based on the increase in foot traffic,” Schneps said . “The market has become a destination for local residents, visitors from throughout the city and beyond including tourists. This is a great way to showcase Astoria and all that it has to offer.”