Today’s news:

New tenants apply to fill Benn’s Hardware location

The new owners of the building that has housed Benn’s Hardware store for the last 68 years said Monday they have been in negotiations with several prospective tenants to take over the space on Bell Boulevard.

In an interview, one of the owners said he and his partners were working to make sure the next tenants help maintain the high quality of life on Bayside’s ‘Main Street.’

“We want to add to the community, to grow with it,” co-owner Jim Papageorge, of Bell Boulevard Realty LLC said. “I hope we’re there 68 years!”

Benn’s Hardware, at 42-29 Bell Blvd., first started business in 1935 and since then Ben Fried and his son Jack have not only maintained a thriving store but become important community activists.

When Benn’s Hardware “retires,” as Jack Fried wistfully describes the store’s impending closing, Papageorge said he and his partners would renovate the two-story building. The space has two storefronts, and Papageorge said the partners were in early negotiations this week with several tenants interested in the property.

“We received a lot of inquiries about the space,” he said. The partners have also been involved in the revitalization of several businesses in Astoria and Long Island City, including properties on 30th Avenue and Vernon Street.

“I always loved Bell Boulevard,” said Papageorge, who said he and his partners are natives of Bayside. “We want to keep up the good relations with the community.”

Even though Benn’s Hardware will close its doors, Jack Fried said in an interview with the TimesLedger last week he and his father would continue to be active in the community.

The pair have served on the 111th Police Precinct Community Council, organized the annual Children’s Holiday Parade on Bell Boulevard, worked to save Engine Co. 306 on the corner of 41st Avenue and 214th Place, and helped found the Bell Boulevard Merchants Association. Jack Fried has served on Community Board 11 in Little Neck for 23 years.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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