.

OPINION: Seeking Solutions to Vacant Storefronts in Port Washington

Why stakeholders should work together for a remedy.

Vacant store fronts do not look good and do little to attract new businesses everyone would agree on this but what I found people do not agree on is what to do about the matter.  

From the responses to this topic I see a lot of people placing the blame, but never do I see anyone come up with a plan to possibly remedy the problem. Stop blaming the president or other politicians. Look at what can be done to re-fill the vacant stores and bring more revenue to Port Washington.  

Where is the voice of the rental agents and landlords who might be more flexible in order to make a rental or entice a business to fill a vacant store? What type of business does Port Washington lack and does it make sense to shop local or go to other towns?  Moderately priced clothes, auto parts, entertainment venues, discount variety store are all types of businesses which our area lacks.  

Whether it is Shore Road or Main Street or Port Washington Boulevard, there are vacant store fronts which should be filled by businesses that we do not presently have in the area. Why are areas such as Plandome Road in Manhasset still thriving with only a few vacant stores?

For those who feel the need to be counter-productive on this matter and use the Patch as a sounding board then maybe you need to run for a political office or start your own column. The intentions of the stories on vacant stores is to solve an issue or at least make a very go attempt at doing so.

For those reading, maybe it's time that you speak out about what types of businesses we need in Port Washington and offer sensible ideas to entice business owners to consider looking at our town.

Jonathan Winant, the author of this post, is a Port Washington resident. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

Caren May 04, 2012 at 09:28 AM
We need a non-ethnic family style restaurant as well that isnt a diner but more like a Grand Lux (or Fridays but not Fridays) ...something that has a wide variety of foods. ALSO - we dont take advantage of our waterfront like some towns do...Not just make the town for residents - but also bring business here from the residents of surrounding towns. ALSO - more outdoor dining when the weather is nice. We need to take advantage of our beautiful town and waterfront. Make this town vibrant - certain new shops have done that...walk past 16 Handles and you can see it busy most days. We need businesses that are ones that people travel out of town for or head into the city. It is true that parking is an issue but I think Manhasset is worse...Maybe think about some kind of incentives for new businesses that want to open here...We need a toy store as well. Would love a Trader Joe's...
R Miller May 04, 2012 at 10:27 AM
We should also be promoting what is here in this town already. One thing I have yet to see is nothing about the upcoming adoptathon this weekend at the NSAL. Great organization that employees many people and save many animals that would otherwise be destroyed
Joseph Mirzoeff May 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM
At certain times, traffic is a problem, more open stores more traffic. Parking is a balance, you get the free ten minutes, but you want to keep the cars moving with the fee and threat of a ticket. Maybe we need another public lot, with consumer spots. Public employee wages are too high, making taxes too high, then rents too high.
Jesse Conover May 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Billiards would be awesome, mix that with a sports bar and we'd have a winner! Need a bigger place though. Most of these shops and restaurants are small. Went to wild honey for an over salted meal and got bumped by the waitstaff a number of times. A nice dinner and a movie (can't wait for new theatre) would be nice. Also, it might kill king kullen but a trader joes would be awesome here!
Cynthia Litman May 04, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Would love more indoor activity with kids during the day and where teens and adults can go hang and play at night, places like Fun Station (a nicer version of chucke cheese) or a Dave and Busters. I too miss Children's Place and while I love Lindas Gifts To Go on Port Blvd, would love another children's store.
Sandy May 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Or a Bowling Alley. :) Even little kids could enjoy that.
Sandy May 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Lack of accessibility of Port is also a plus. However, in order to keep our town free of big box stores, we, in town, must support it. I agree with a comment above that having more affordable bakeries and clothing stores is a good idea. We have become a boutique town with few places that are affordable for a vast segment of our population.
Debbie O'Brien May 04, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Instead of focusing on how to populate our town with retail spaces that will serve only our community, I would like to see an effort to get the tourists back. Port is a harbor town and was a destination for people who were seeking a relaxing expedition. As Port residents we can certainly take the short 11 mile drive to Old Country Road and hit up any box store we could want, Target, Walmart, Costco, DSW and on and on...Does anyone who loves Port Washington really want our little harbor town to become another Old Country Road? Not me. Time to bring the tourists back. They loved our Antique shoppes, our mom and pop stores and when they visit, they spend. Tourists eat at our local food places, buy souvenirs, park at the meters, some of them buy our Real Estate and become our neighbors. Our stores are vacant because our property taxes are ridiculously high, especially on the commercial tax rate. The rents are pushed up to compensate the property owners for the high cost of ownership. One day, I would like to hear that the people are pulling together and protesting our taxes. Yes, I said it, I don't like paying high taxes, I'd rather pay "fair" taxes.
Sandy May 04, 2012 at 02:35 PM
One thing that could be done with the empty storefronts to give the town a "less vacant" feel and help local artists, is to follow the lead of some storefronts in Huntington. There are several storefronts that have mini-galleries in them. I don't know if the artists pay a fee, but even a nominal fee for use of an empty window would give the town a more "lived in" look and allow artists (and there are plenty of us) a venue, even if temporary, to exhibit work. I could envision something through the BID or CoC, where there is a sign-up process for artists to register, and, as space becomes available (empty), allow artists to exhibit on a rotating basis.
Joseph Mirzoeff May 04, 2012 at 02:46 PM
This is a great idea.
hank ratner May 04, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Sandy's idea is spot on!
Ben May 04, 2012 at 04:49 PM
West Marine is a great store and I never see any people in here. I would like to see West Marine vacate the crumbling financially troubled Soundview Shopping Center and move uptown across from the rail road station so communters, etc. could buy brithday gifts, clothing, etc. when they get off the train. And other high end retailers should folllow like Brookstone. With the TNH Building Department in the mix this discussion will go on for years and the sea of For Rent signs will not go away any time soon leaving our town in bad shape for years maybe decades to come.
Merrick7 May 04, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I am a south shore resident, I know this may shock many on the site to suggest this, but I have friends who own small businesses in Bayside. Bell Boulevard in Bayside, which is on the same stretch of Northern Boulevard, even during this recession has had a low vacancy rate. There are tons of new stores coming in constantly. They have been cited in the several newspapers for having one of the best Business Improvement Districts (BID) in the city. Anyone who travels on Northern toward the city can see how much more overcrowded roads like Bell Boulevard are and yet many people drive and walk over and make purchases there. There is many expensive shops (i.e. bakeries) well as bars and restaurants and stores for children. There is also a well known outdoor mall nearby and it thrives in spite of this. Basically I think it is a good idea to contact Bayside's BID and find out some suggestions.
C Mintz May 05, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Rents need to be lowered. A friend of mine just had to close her store and it broke my heart. It starts looking like a ghost town. Where are some nice coffee shops where you can relax near the water that play music, or internet cafes. We need a place to play pool, bring back Soundview movie theater, more street fairs. better marketing, reasonable prices. but it all starts with the rent...
Matthew Straus May 06, 2012 at 02:34 AM
In fact their was a large bowling alley right where King Kullen is currently located. It was called Bay Bowl and I went to many a kids birthday party at that place when I was a kid. Really fun place. The rents are to high for a fun family oriented place like that because the owners cannot make enough money to make it worth while.
Matthew Straus May 06, 2012 at 03:01 AM
The $133,573,806 million proposed school budget for 2012-2013 will continue to take its toll on local businesses in PW. This huge bill requires every resident to carry a huge tax burden leaving less for shopping, less for town improvements, and less for development of pubic spaces to attract businesses and the people who frequent them. The proposed budget wants to tack on another $2.7 million onto the 2011-2012 budget. Imagine how far $2.7 million would go to improve a few blocks on main street or rebuild the PAL park and field. This proposed budget should outrage anyone who does not like seeing all the empty store fronts around this town. At the same time commercial property owners have to charge more in rent to cover their tax burden. If you want to see the town develop it's local businesses the school board needs to freeze the budget for a few years and let the residents working in the private sector catch up so they start to spend money again. It's difficult to want to invest in this town these days when you see the size of the school budget and the size of the increases which happen every year without fail. Despite seeing a bunch of Bentleys rolling around Port many of the residents live on a very tight budget.
Linda Delia May 12, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I believe that for the average person living in town there is a very simple reason for not shopping locally. Parking is a problem but worse than that is the ever present apprehension of receiving an unreasonable parking ticket. We have ONE HOUR meters strategic to shopping on Main Street and PW Blvd. How many of us have received an exorbitant ticket for being 2 minutes late to feed the meter? For this I believe we have to blame the people whose salary we pay with our taxes, our very own Police Department who seems to be fighting a war against the hand that feeds them. It's as though they are crouching behind every corner ready to dispense a ticket the minute the meter turns red. I understand the need to keep commuters from parking all day in the nominal spaces that exist but what is occurring is quite different. I can't go to a Hair Salon in town w/o worrying about feeding the meter BEFORE it runs out. I can't sit and relax with a friend at a restaurant without continually looking at my watch. So then what's to keep me from shopping instead in Manhasset where there are no meters on Plandome Road? Or anywhere I can go about my business in a less anxious manner. Our town does not even personally benefit from the money collected for parking tkts. It all goes to The Town of No. Hemp. In summary, we pay higher taxes to have our own PD. They in turn ambitiously give out parking summonses to people trying to support the shops. Perhaps local business owners should meet with the
Linda Delia May 12, 2012 at 09:46 PM
...Police Commissioner and discuss this problem so we all can engage in enjoyable activities and shopping in the hub of our very own town.
Joseph Mirzoeff May 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Good point. It happened to my wife and she was really ticked off.
Joseph Mirzoeff May 13, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Linda Delia: I also agree with you that government at many levels is self-serving and not making sufficient efforts to serve the public. Instead they often prey on the public -- here where taxes are the highest in the nation due to public servant compensation.
James Salerno May 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Hi Linda, I understand your concerns about the metered parking in town. For the last several years, the Town of North Hempstead has enforced the meter violations. Very few meter violations are issued by the PWPD. I would suggest you contact Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, or feel free to contact me at the number below. Jim Salerno Asst. Chief PWPD 883 0500 x 309
s h June 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Yikes! I was actually thinking about moving back to Port and open an artisan cafe and gallery near the water somewhere. I grew up in Port and remember Ben & Jerry's and the quaint American town it was in 1991. Last time I came for a visit for Christmas I couldn't believe how corporate & posh it's become. How many banks does Port need? Where did the mom & pop shops go? Where's Soundview movie theatre & Pastabilities? Cheeburger Cheeburger? Blockbuster? The pool is fancy dancy. If officials are trying to make quota and prove that Port's locals are just those who live in Sands Point they're doing a good job. Where is everything the stuff that made Port what it is? Whoever it is needs to really re-evaluate what and who this town is catering to. Unfortunately, after a thorough look-see for myself I can't afford the $2900 per month to open a little place near the non-existant thrift shop that would cater to locals. It's just impossible to forcast in a town thats now too expensive to even live in. I feel I've been pushed out for higher class. Can't even rent a house here as with most of Schr. class of '02. College really burns the kids trying to come back to their hometown.
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
The idea is,"What is the state of mind of this town?" This town used to ring out with creative artists and musicians, they used to paint on their canvases all along the water and the docks. Entice them to do so again. Where are the artisans selling their wares to attract tourists? Where are the antique shops to attract tourists and fun seekers for a bargain? Whose idea was it to get rid of them? The bandshell is not being used enough for entertainment... People used to go fishing with their kids...where are the fishing boats? Where is Bait'N'Tackle? Bring it back! I never see anyone around the Mill Pond...what were the steps created for? Little row boats? MMmmm I wonder. It's all fixed up now....for what? How much did that cost? Who uses it?
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Not only is this is a water town, but it's a NEW YORK WATER TOWN! We should have the greatest seafood restaurants around that would attract people from all over to come all-year-round and eat and we shouldn't have to rob a bank to eat in them. I used to travel all the way to Connecticut just to have a special shrimp dish and a memory. What are we doing here with Louie's....do people really want to eat in a bank!!!! Tell Louie's to extend his pier once again like in it's beginning and make a raw clam shack....and do just that...CALL IT," THE SHACK"! People, who don't live near the water, want to FEEL WHAT IT'S LIKE ON THE WATER WITHOUT WEARING A TUXEDO!!!! They just want a nice cup of clam chowder and some crackers. We have so much beach not being used....people want A CLAM BAKE!!!! Get it???? Where are the real in-the-beach sand clam bakes?? Do we have any little night cruises around our little waterway here? No? Why? What's going on? This place should be a mecca for watersports. I was told the Manorhaven pool wouldn't open until June 17th..Father's Day! Are you kidding? Wasn't it just fixed up? I haven't been there but I remember it used to open Memorial Day weekend.....what's going on?
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:41 AM
There's nothing like a cozy, little hobby shop run by a knowledgeable older gentleman that the little girls and boys can go to for some simple creations they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Instead you put a computer repair shop in there that keeps all it's garbage right in front of you! What were you thinking...you killed it for so many little children. They're not looking for the gigantic hobby shop! You can go elsewhere for that. Return Ben & Jerry's, with it's big Cow Mural, where the school kids get a chance to scoop out ice creams to the customers and have an experience. Return Pastabilities to the failing Soundview Shopping Center. It was bustling with families having a nice dinner before a show all-year round. Bring back that Movie Theater and bring Carvel's forward out of the corner it's in! For Heaven sake...it's Carvel! I dare you to put in an old fashioned soda shop right next to the Main Street Theater where the kids can have an egg cream and a memory and keep the prices down! Put in a Mel's Diner!
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Inspiration Wharf should be bustling with mini-galleries and artisans of all kinds....the wrong people are there and they always have been! There used to be a shop selling goods from Asia like porcelain urns and scaled down boats. I looked at one of the boats they were selling and was shocked to see the price was a whopping $200.00. I laughed to myself...it was the exact same boat I bought at the then Grand Union for $17.00....and I bought two of them! I'm sorry for the people who were taken. That shop is now gone ! Get a special toy store in here, a decent children's clothing store so we don't have to go all the way to the mall and waste gas...at these merciless prices! Put in a Trader Joe's and a Bowling Alley and a pool room. We want mom and pop stores with little specialties who help you get what you want and need. Handmade stuff and a creamery. People who love to do what they do. Keep it cozy and cleanminded...not massive and expensive.
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:49 AM
We need the Port Washington Center for the Arts and a Jazz Club as you come right off the train. We should have a small hotel right next to the Good-Year building and the rooms should be between $99 - $150/nite. Not promoted for big business but for vacationers. Keep it cozy. Everyone wants to be able to go to their special little place and have some fun without maxing their credit cards....THEY WILL COME BACK AND TELL OTHERS.
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 12:52 AM
There's a building that's been vacant for years...it used to be a bank. Slowly I'd see people taking it over, using it, coming in through the back very quietly and now it's full out used. Can you tell me...what is going on in there? It's like it was just taken over. I'd like to know is that legal?
Cherub June 29, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Corporate! That's the word I was looking for. You said it s h! Corporate! After that word comes....compromised!
jacqueline becker July 05, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I suggest you write Senator Cuomo. Special Ed is a huge reason why the budget is so high. Ask for homogeneous classes and let us not try to teach children who really cannot learn. Yes have them come to school. But let's be judigious about whether an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a speech and language teacher, a psychologist etc. can make a difference that can justify their salaries. Some kids just can't really get ahead.

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