College Pt. revitalizes biz district

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The College Point Board of Trade has unveiled a plan to revitalize College Point Boulevard, adding old-fashioned street lights, larger trash cans and “theme banners” in a bid to improve the shopping district.

Funded by appropriations from state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows), the plan is based on the work of the consulting firm Buckhurst, Fish and Jacquemart, Inc.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Fred Mazzarello, president of the College Point Board of Trade. “It’s not only going to enhance the shopping district, it will benefit the community itself.”

Parts of the plan have already taken effect. Thirty-six poles are decorated with theme banners advertising summer on College Point Boulevard from 14th to 23rd avenues, the target area of the plan. As the season changes, the banners will be replaced by others announcing the arrival of fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring. One banner reading “Welcome to Historic College Point,” will be displayed in the winter.

According to Mazzarello, street lights will be replaced by “old-fashioned” street lanterns.

Mayersohn has requested funding for the new lamps, which cost $8,000 a piece. The remaining improvements are estimated at $345,000, funded at the request of Padavan.

Garbage cans along College Point Boulevard, 28 in total, will be replaced by newer, larger cans designed to prevent residents from throwing their trash into the receptacles, Mazzarello said. The College Point Board of Trade submitted the plan to the Department of Sanitation and is expecting their approval.

A key element of the proposal is changing the roll-down gates in front of storefronts at night. Many of the solid gates are covered with graffiti.

“At night after the businesses are closed the area looks like a disaster,” said Mazzarello. “It has the appearance of a high-crime area.”

In order to improve the look of the stores, the College Point Board of Trade has recommended that business owners replace the solid roll-down gates with open-grille gates, designed to deter graffiti.

Mazzarello said 25 businesses had already agreed to the replacement, and he hoped more would sign on.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the cooperation of the business owners,” he said.

The proposal comes after more than a year of research, and Mazzarello said his organization wants to see all the improvements complete in about two years.

Buckhurst, Fish and Jacquemart is also studying ways to improve the facades of the buildings of College Point Boulevard.

As part of the funds secured by Padavan, the College Point Board of Trade is also planning to hold a retail seminar for local businesses hosted by Jon Schallert, a marketing consultant, in October.

Harlan Sexton, an associate with Buckhurst, Fish and Jacquemart, said Mazzarello was not alone in his quest to improve shopping in his neighborhood.

“They’re like many main streets in small towns, trying to figure out who still shops there,” Sexton said. “They’re not alone in trying to understand changes in American shopping habits.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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