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Biz leaders hope to get parking lot

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Although they have struggled to find a lot, Whitestone business leaders still hope they can acquire space for additional parking as part of their revitalization plans for the area's business district.

"We're desperately working on trying to get parking," said George Isaakidis, vice president of the Whitestone Village Revitalization Corporation. "We haven't given up on it all together."

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) appropriated $680,000 in state funds to build a parking facility for the Whitestone business district several years ago.

The area, centered on the intersection of 150th Street and 14th Avenue, has been plagued by a lack of available parking for years, according to local business owners.

Isaakidis and Vinnie Papa, president of the revitalization corporation, had originally eyed the property of Thomas Zedlovich, owner of a construction company at 150-12 14th Ave.

The business group had thought Zedlovich's 20,000-square-foot lot, currently a grass field, was perfect for parking, since it sits a short walk from the area's main intersection, just behind his business.

But Zedlovich told the group he was not interested in a sale.

"I have elected not to put the property on the market," Zedlovich said. "I have had it appraised, and ($680,000) is not adequate ... Most people in this town, they have great expectations, but the funding is not there."

Zedlovich said he was considering building an office building and stores on the property.

While Papa said he still hoped Zedlovich some day might change his mind, the business group developed a secondary plan to beautify the area.

The proposal includes the installation of old-fashioned street lights, brick sidewalks, and benches from 149th Street to Clintonville Street and from 12th Road to the Cross Island Parkway. An antique street clock is also a possibility.

But the business group feels more parking is essential to boosting business for local stores.

With the plan to use Zedlovich's grounds seeming to have fallen through, the group is eying other locations.

The business owners might reach a deal with the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church at 150-05 12th Ave. Papa said.

"The Holy Cross church has taken down some buildings there, and they are going to make a parking facility," Papa said. "We are trying to work out an agreement with the pastor there."

The group has also discussed paying the Walgreens Pharmacy at 149-28 14th Ave. to use some of their spaces

"We are trying everything possible," Papa said.

Some business owners, however, were doubtful the business group would succeed with their plans.

"They've been battling for parking since the 1950s, but it looks like it's never going to happen," said George Docke, Jr., owner of The Original Whitestone Florist.

Docke said he regularly gets complaints from customers who struggle to find parking in the area.

But Isaakidis said he remained hopeful his group would produce a strong revitalization plan which includes parking.

"I don't think it's a losing battle," he said. "We're really trying to push this forward and do something for the Whitestone town."

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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