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Queens Business Owner Blames MTA, Management Company For Loss In Customers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A business owner in Queens blames the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a company hired to oversee repairs for a loss in customers.

There are growing fears among store owners and residents that the problems will lead to stores shutting down.

Anil Argawal says for the past week, he's had no electricity in half of his store, and it's led to fruits and vegetables going bad.

He says it's cost him thousands of dollars in lost business.

"I'm totally devastated, I'm totally ruined," he said.

Argawal and his brother own the market on Lefferts Boulevard right off Austin Street in Kew Gardens. The property, along with others, is on a bridge above the Long Island Rail Road tracks -- owned by the MTA.

The agency hired management company Zee N Kay to oversee repair work.

Agarwal says the repairs have taken too long to make. The management company disagrees.

"We have fulfilled each and every one of our obligations," Kunal Kapoor from Zee N Kay said.

Last Thursday, an electrician the company hired started to fix a panel because the electricity had been tripping. But four days later, an MTA Fire Marshal issued a stop work order -- saying the agency needed to approve all electrical plans beforehand.

"Typically, LIRR takes several months to get back to you and we couldn't wait that long," Kapoor said.

Merchants say they feel repairs are dragged out because of possible plans in the future by the MTA to shut down stores on the historic bridge.

"The MTA owns the properties," one man told CBS2. "They're trying to drive out these businesses and put condos or co-ops or something. We love this community we like the way it looks."

No one from the transit agency would agree to go on camera, but a spokesperson told CBS2 the stop work order issued in this case has nothing to do with "issues related to the underlying sub-structure."

Additionally, a review of the plans for Argawal's store have been expedited.

The owners hope they don't have to wait another week.

In 2020, the MTA can decide whether or not to renew its contract with Zee N Kay.

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