Dec. 3, 2018 By Christian Murray
The demolition of a block of stores by the Ditmars Boulevard station to make way for Target will bring plenty of change—but it will also present opportunity for Andrew Latos, an Astoria attorney.
The stores to be bulldozed are located on 31st Street—between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard—with The Rock occupying the second floor of the two-story building along with Latos’ law firm, Latos Latos & Associates.
Latos, who was raised in Astoria, has had a stake in The Rock since it opened in 2000. His law firm, which he established with his late brother Peter, took over the remainder of the second-floor space—which was not occupied by The Rock– in 2007.
The building owner, Alex Adjmi of A&H Acquisition, announced last year that he would be demolishing the building—which includes a Subway, a bodega, a number of shuttered stores, The Rock and the Latos law firm. Demolition permits have yet to be filed.
Latos said that The Rock will be moving across the street to 22-06 31st Street, a new development that A&H is close to completing. The building will also be tenanted by T.J. MAXX, the building owner confirmed.
The Rock will open its new space in spring 2019 and that it should be a seamless move for the 3,000-plus members, according to Dora Arsenis, the manager of the facility.
“The new facility will include all-new, state-of-the-art equipment,” Arsenis said, adding that the new space will be about 14,000 square feet. She said that they are already working on the new space.
Arsenis said the new and old location will remain open for a short period of time to help people during the transition.
This represents a new chapter for the business, which was started as a risky venture back in 2000. The space at that time had been empty for years after different businesses came and went. It had been a bowling alley, a roller-skating rink and even a movie theater at one time.
Latos said that soon after the gym opened the city radically changed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said that the trains to Ditmars Boulevard were down for some time and the mood was glum. They wondered whether the gym would suffer the same fate as the bowling alley.
Nevertheless, with time, The Rock’s fortunes changed and continued to do so as a wave of newcomers kept coming to the area.
The Latos law firm, however, will be relocating elsewhere in Astoria, where he has been since 1992, when he and his brother opened. He has found a new location that will be nearby.
Latos, who attended school at St. Demetrios in Astoria and graduated from St. John’s University and Touro Law School, has deep roots to the area. He built his law firm in Astoria on 30th Avenue largely by representing Greek immigrants, small home owners, tenants and personal injury clients.
His ties to the community also led he and his brother to invest in First Central Savings Bank, after being approached by Joseph Pistilli, of the Astoria-based Pistilli Realty Group, its founder. Latos is on the board of the bank.
Latos is also part owner of the Greek-language channel New Greek TV, which can be viewed on Time Warner Cable.
Latos, however, has been dedicating much of his time in recent years to prostate cancer awareness.
His brother Peter, with whom he founded his law firm, died at the age of 48 after being diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate cancer when he was 44 years old in 2013.
Andrew founded the “Peter Latos Prostate Cancer Foundation,” whose mission is to save lives through the early detection. The mission statement is “one simple blood test,” referring to PSA testing and early detection. The foundation is now being run by Dennis Latos, Peter Latos’ son.
Andrew is now focusing on moving The Latos law firm into the new Astoria location.
“Astoria is a unique community,” Latos said. “I have seen it go through multiple changes in my over 50 years living in the community, and with all the positive energy I only see more good things to come.”