Small Business Commissioner Tours F.R. Business District
By Miriam Rosenberg
As Walsh walked down Beach 22 Street to the Far Rockaway Mall, he spoke with storeowners and their representatives. He also took note of the problems and possibilities in the area.
14th and Union,” Walsh said at a working lunch after the walkthrough. “We tackled many problems block by block. We put people around the table on a regular basis.”
Walsh talked about the great architecture, the engaged business owners and the opportunities to turn things around. Some of the areas of special interest were the common walkway on Beach 22nd Street and the Far Rockaway Mall.
“Perhaps try a green grocer with an open air market,” Walsh suggested. “Keep the quality high. It brings people to the area.
Walsh also surveyed the Far Rockaway Mall.
Curtis Archer (executive director of RDRC) told Walsh the mall could handle 350,000 square feet of retail space. Yet, the almost empty mall is losing $20 to $25 million to the Five Towns.
Walsh told the business leaders to look at the different areas in the district and set up a physical plan for development.
“You need to break it down block by block,” Walsh said.
He said he would help get other agencies, such as the commissioner of housing, out to see the area. Walsh also promised to set up a business assistance office with counselors to help businesses expand and get capital, and he would like to see job training and job development in Far Rockaway.
Other areas of concern brought up by business owners such as La’Vida Jervis (Bridal Creations by La’Vida; REMA), Daisy Johnson (Miss D’s Playgroup) and Joanie Omeste (Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce) included parking, safety and dirty streets.
“We have a municipal parking lot and it could bring money to town,” said Johnson. “It’s a shame. It’s a big lot, and it is filthy.”
The commissioner believes his office and the community working together could revitalize the area.
“Let’s see what we can do,” Walsh told those at the lunch. “We can get the graffiti truck out here [to clean], call 311 for broken streetlights and potholes, and the Doe Fund [to clean the streets] will make a difference.
We can also get Commissioner Donovan (of Housing) out here. If it is clean, safe and we add a market it will fall into place.”
After the meeting, Sanders spoke with Omeste about starting work on revitalization.
“Within seven to ten days we need to move to decide a zone,” Sanders told Omeste about the first blocks to be targeted for redevelopment.
Omeste, Archer, Jervis and other business owners joined Sanders and Walsh on the walking tour and working lunch.