Stapleton business district poised for star turn
Kamillah Hanks believes Stapleton can once again thrive, especially since the Ironstate Development Project, which promises 900 units of housing at the former Stapleton Home Port, is being built.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Kamillah Hanks remembers when Woolworth department store sat right across the street from Tappen Park in Stapleton, one of the most popular village shopping districts in the borough before the Staten Island Mall opened.
She also remembers walking across the park and going to the now vacant store that was home to The Store of a Million Items, which closed in 2003 after three quarters of a century in business.
At one time, Stapleton was a shopping destination, but a lot has changed. Today, rows of vacant, dingy storefronts line Bay, Water and Canal streets.
"The Store of a Million Items opened in the 1960s ... Across the street used to be Woolworth where mothers would buy patterns that could be cut out to make your clothes," said Ms. Hanks, president/CEO of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership.
But she hasn't despaired. Ms. Hanks believes Stapleton can once again thrive, especially since the Ironstate Development Project, which promises 900 units of housing at the former Stapleton Home Port, is being built.
In addition, the Stapleton commercial strip is poised to attract tourist traffic when the N.Y. Wheel, Empire Outlets and Lighthouse Pointe are built in St. George.
For this reason, The Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership is calling on investors and local real estate brokers to seek good retail businesses to cash in on "deals near the Wheel." To that end, the group organized a walking tour to visit vacant stores on Tuesday in the Stapleton business district.
"The issue with this neighborhood is we have an overwhelming amount of social services here. We don't want SROs or homeless shelters," said Ms. Hanks.
"We want a bakery, restaurants and performing arts."
Said James Murphy, a real estate salesperson with Tom Crimmins Realty, "This is the best time for a retail business to get into Stapleton. This is probably the last gasp of affordability in Stapleton. Now is the time. It's run, don't walk."
Local business owners also want to see new businesses move in.
"There's no where besides McDonald's for me to get breakfast in this area," said Alexander Federico IV, general manager at Coastal Plumbing Supply in Stapleton.
"We need white-collar businesses, bakeries, coffee shops -- we need all types of businesses here," he added.
One property toured by the brokers was a building at 135 Canal Street with 18,000-square-feet of available space on the third floor for rent, said William Jordan, vice president of CBRE of Long Island City.
"This is an existing two-story building. We built a third floor. The renovation is being completed now. The second floor is leased to the city of New York for the Health and Hospitals Corp.," he said.
"It looks like Stapleton is finally happening," he added.
Among the other properties highlighted during the tour were 105 Canal -- 1,200-square-feet of space priced at $25 per square-foot -- and 103 Canal Street, which has 1,800-square-feet of space, also at $25 per square-foot, said Sonia Tomai, associate broker and leasing director with Casandra Properties.
The Historic Tappen Park effort is supported through the Retail Recruitment Program, offered by the NYC Department of Small Business Services. The program helps commercial corridors across the five boroughs fill vacancies and create a more vibrant retail mix to keep consumers shopping local.
"Commercial corridors are the backbone of neighborhoods and from the city's perspective we can't be in every corner, but we can build the capacity of an organization, like The Historic Tappen Park Partnership, and be a third party advocate with the brokers and property owners," said Kris Goddard, executive director of the Neighborhood Development Division of NYC Small Business Services.
The program provides one-on-one technical assistance and the tools necessary to improve and manage a district's business mix.
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