July 26, 2018 By Tara Law (Updated 7/27)
A Forest Hills dry cleaners that has been in business for 40 years will be relocating to a nearby storefront as its lease has expired and the landlord has decided to sell the building.
Maryfield Cleaners will move from 107-10 71st Rd. to 107-25 on the opposite side of 71st Road this September, owner Philip Lee said. The building where the dry cleaners is located, which is also occupied by A&J Pizza, is currently up for sale with East Coast Realtors for $9.8 million.
Lee, who owns the business with his mother, Young “June” Lee, said that his family took over Maryfield Cleaners about 18 years ago.
The family’s 10-year lease on the property expired in June, and the dry cleaner is currently paying $7,500 for rent month to month, Lee said.
Lee said that both he and his mother had hoped to renew the lease. However, the landlord wanted to raise the rent from the original $7,200 a month to $10,000, Lee claimed.
The landlord also wanted the dry cleaners to pay property taxes, which would have brought the rent up an additional $1,000 to $2,000 each month, Lee said.
Lee described the higher rent as “unreasonable for a small business like mine.”
Lee places the blame for the rent increase on the gentrification in the neighborhood, which is forcing out small businesses.
“There’s only so many Gaps, Banana Republics— multinational conglomerates— that can move to Forest Hills,” Lee said.
He admitted that he has been “very lucky” to find a new location so close by.
His mother added that the family is looking forward to installing brand new machines in the new space.
However, Philip Lee said, it was still upsetting because they feel forced out of the store’s longtime location.
“It’s a sad occasion for our family,” Lee said. “My mother is as much a part of the Forest Hills community as anybody.”
The building, which is for sale, also contains A & J. Pizza.
A&J Pizza could not be reached for comment, but the broker responsible for selling the building, Chong “Erica” Chong of East Coast Realty, said that the pizzeria is operating on a month to month lease.
The building owner, Henry Law, did not respond to a request for comment by the time this article was published.