The city is giving a Bronx newsstand the boot to make way for a delivery workers’ “street hub” despite statements from Mayor Adams that the respite centers for the thousands of delivery workers in the city would be placed in vacant and abandoned newsstands.
“I don’t know why they’re doing this,” said Mohammad Ullah, co-owner of the Nabila Newsstand in Rose Hill Park, off Fordham Road. “I can’t give an answer for why they do this, but I know this business is good for the community and the business is good for me. I don’t know why they want to close it… I’m upset.”
Ullah and Mostack Bhuiyan have owned the newsstand since 2008. Both immigrants originally from Bangladesh, they’ve built successful lives for themselves, their families and two employees by providing what they say is an essential service for the neighborhood.
The community and customers are outraged. On Friday morning, word spread that the store is closing.
“Oh, no, no, no, no,” Nolma Campell said. “This store is very convenient! And necessary too. Good location and these people are good people too. You come to play your lotto, grab a cup of coffee, the train station is there. This doesn’t make any sense.”
In October, Mayor Adams pledged to transform vacant newsstands into “street hubs” for bike-riding food delivery workers to rest, recharge their e-bikes and access repair their gear. The program is bankrolled by a $1 million infrastructure initiative secured by Senator Chuck Schumer.
“How do we turn a blight into a tool that could be used to provide a job? The newsstand business has evolved and changed and we know this is the best way to do it,” Adams said at the time.
The two other newsstands slated to be converted, at City Hall and on the Upper West Side, are vacant.
Nabila Newsstand in Rose Hill Park isn’t. The owners’ concession agreement — which functions like a multi-year lease — expires in March. A source in the Parks Department said the bidding process for use of the space after March has been closed, to Nabila Newsstand or anyone else. This effectively blocks the newsstand from occupying the building they’ve had after March.
“The mayor’s office contacted me and said there was an empty, underused newsstand they wanted to use,” said Rafael Moure-Punnett, district manager for Bronx Community Board 6. ”I said, ‘But it’s not vacant!’ … “It seems like they had this mission from the beginning and they weren’t going to let the facts get in the way.”
Moure-Punnett wrote to the Parks Department, asking why Parks wasn’t renewing the lease.
“The term of the agreement with this newsstand is ending very soon. Parks is looking into a different use for this facility,” a Parks employee wrote back in the email, reviewed by the Daily News. In a separate email, the Parks employees confirms that the site of this newsstand was being eyed as a site for a delivery workers hub.
“The selection of Deliverista Hubs is not yet final, and conversations are ongoing between City Hall, the Community Board, and relevant stakeholders,” Dan Kastanis, a Parks Department spokesperson said in a statement.
Schumer’s office deferred to the Parks Department for comment.
Hundreds of people — commuters rushing to grab a coffee on their way to the train, cops on patrol, women carrying groceries looking to get lucky with a lottery ticket, students grabbing cigarettes on their way to class at Fordham University and retirees catching up on newspaper headlines — stop by the newsstand every day.
Nahiyan Bhuiyan, 21, is Mostack’s son. Some of his favorite memories as a kid are of times he’d keep his dad company at the store, siting on stacks of water bottles and flipping through magazines.
“It’s kind of emotional,” he said. “I don’t like seeing my dad in a state where he doesn’t have control. And, you know, he’s 51, he’s a stressed out immigrant who came here and built a life, all that stuff, but it took a toll and it’s still taking a toll.”
The store helped pay Nahiyan’s tuition at Hunter College, where he’s a senior getting ready to graduate with a degree in computer science. Now, he’s looking for a job to support his dad.
“If I can find one, then my dad can retire and kind of relax, but until then, the job market is really bad right now. So my dad’s really stressed, I’m stressed. My dad’s the only breadwinner in the house as well.”
Jack Tillery, 66, forget his phone on a stack of gum in the store and came back an hour later looking for it — the owners had noticed the phone and stashed it away safe for him. Tillery is retired, and has been coming to the store for ten years.
“Why? There’s so many other places they could do it… They talk about people being out of work, but they’re trying to take business from them. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“Why would you want to replace this? The people need this business, it’s important for this community, Bhuiyan said. “Everyone needs help, comes here for quick service, MetroCard lotto, change, drinks, ATM machine, all those things are important to us. We also think this job is important. We’ve been doing this for a long time. And all together, four of us work here. Four families depend on this.”
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