Nov. 17, 2017 By Tara Law
A non-profit organization that sells recycled furniture and building materials is closing its Astoria operation.
Big Reuse, which has been operating out of a 35,000 square foot warehouse at 3-17 26th Avenue for the past 12 years, is leaving Nov. 30 after the property owner wanted to hike the rent.
The landlord wants to double it–from $20,000 per month to $40,000–claimed Justin Green, the executive director of the organization.
Green said that the rent increase was untenable for a nonprofit.
The organization generates its revenue by salvaging construction materials from demolished buildings and remodeling and re-purposing them. Its goal is to reduce construction waste and promote greener living.
“The rent is a lot when you’re selling salvaged toilets and reclaimed lumber, and you’re trying to do it as affordably as possible,” said Green.
The site contains a reuse center, a compost center and a mill for reclaimed lumber.
“It’s a big loss for our organization,” Green said. “And it’s a big loss for New Yorkers who want to donate their building materials. There’s not a lot of places like us.”
All items at the Queens location are currently 50 percent off. The location is also giving away doors, windows and trim for free.
The company will continue to maintain its Queens compost drop-offs and run street tree care events. Last year’s composting and tree care events attracted nearly 700 volunteers, Green said.
Big Reuse’s Brooklyn operation, located at 69 9th St. Gowanus, will remain open.
Green said that he is sad to have to lay off five staff members, and to close the site which is Big Reuse’s original location.
Big Reuse, however, is looking for a new location in Queens, and plans to remain active in the borough, Green said.
Think of this in relation to apartment rent.
35000 sq feet can be 45 or so 800 sq ft 1 or 2 bedroom apartments. The landlord was renting the place out for ~$440 a month per apartment. No way the landlord could make money at those rates – taxes and maintenance alone would kill the landlord.
If you want to talk about gougers, talk about the guys on Steinway or Broadway that want $100 per square foot (where rent for 35000 square feet would be $250,000+ a month instead of $20,000) or the people selling condos or single family homes for $1000 a square foot.
To all those who think the landlord is a rent gouger, perhaps you should buy some Astoria real estate and try making a living renting it out for $7 a square foot, I’ll probably see your bankruptcy notice in the paper within a year. Good luck.
Location location location is not the best
Money-the root of all evil…..
Money is the root of all evil
Why he shouldn’t take more money ?
I see many trucks picking up old mattresses and furniture that others throw out in Astoria. Its such a shame that this place is closing.
A PLACE THAT IS NEEDED TO REPUPOSE CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS PROVIDING A GREAT SERVICE – ANOTHER GREEDY LANDLORD JACKING UP THE RENT AMAZING TO 40 GRAND PER MONTH
I guess you work for free?
This charity was getting a gift by having rent at under $7 a square foot when going rates in the area are closer to $18 minimum. Even at the $13.40 the landlord is asking for it is still a bargain.
$7 a square foot was pricing from the 1990s and the landlord does not get a tax writeoff for renting to this charity at a low rate. Landlord probably had some changes in life and needs to actually generate some income. I’ll bet the real estate taxes, insurance and maintenance more than doubled since Big Reuse moved in.
Maybe the landlord wants to sell the property and obviously can’t get a decent price for it with it leased out at less than 40% of market rate.
The landlord is being more than fair here unfortunately as the Big Reuse spokesperson said – you don’t make a lot of money selling used toilets. Hopefully they can find another location in a lower rent area so they can keep 2 locations open.
Do you turn down raises?
“Hello employee, we could pay you $20 an hour or $14 an hour. Why don’t you take the $14 an hour so you don’t look greedy”.