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A Storefront View: Bellerose shopping district grew from joint effort

The history of the Bellerose shopping district is a “tale of three cities.”

In 1995 a group of residents of the three Belleroses — Bellerose Manor in Queens; Bellerose Terrace, an unincorporated hamlet in the Town of Hempstead; and the Village of Bellerose, an incorporated village with its own government within the boundaries of the town of Hempstead — joined forces to improve their shared shopping strip along Jamaica Avenue (the name on the north side of the street) and Jericho Turnpike (the name of the same street on the south side).

Yes, it is confusing, but that is what makes our community unique in all of New York state. It is one community divided among three geopolitical jurisdictions. Of course, that makes solving problems a bit of a challenge and is why it seems it took some 70 years before anyone decided to tackle those problems jointly.

What grew out of this cooperative effort is the Joint Bellerose Business District Development Corp., incorporated in 1997 with a mailing address at the Village Hall in Bellerose Village. Our board is equally divided between Queens and Nassau residents and comprises a 60 percent/40 percent split between local residents and merchants.

After decades of a slow decline in the quality and appearance of the stores, which had been hammered by the same forces that have affected all old downtowns — lack of parking and the allure of name-brand stores in shopping malls — it was time to arrest the blight before residential property values were adversely affected. Given the burden of the split governmental responsibilities, we nevertheless have made an impact.

For the first time a directory of stores along the avenue, from Queens Village at 225th Street to 257th Street in Floral Park, has been published and distributed to every resident of greater Bellerose. We also include stores along Braddock Avenue from Jamaica Avenue to Gettysburg Street.

We have had various festive banners placed on lampposts to help identify the district, and all of our banners and publications sport our distinctive logo, which stylistically represents the predominate architecture of the area: English Tudor and vernacular architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. We have placed a handsome wood-carved welcome sign as you enter Bellerose from the Cross Island Parkway and have four major capital construction projects underway.

These projects include the new cast-iron lampposts for Jamaica Avenue’s median, new storefronts for many of our participating stores, a reconfigured traffic island at Jamaica Avenue and 245th Street and the erection of a post (street) clock to further our goal of giving Bellerose a sense of place — a destination rather than just a corridor to drive through.

We also provide our own gardener to maintain the greenswards in the center of town and embellish them with live flowers and have had some 80 flowering trees planted in the concrete median of Jamaica Avenue/Jericho Turnpike.

In addition to these undertakings, we also have removed all graffiti from storefronts at our own expense and set up a Web site. We have raised some $700,000 in funds to underwrite these projects.

We are especially grateful to state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) for providing most of the funds, but also to Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) and state Sen. Michael Balboni (R-Long Island). Additional support has come from the New York Community Trust, the Long Island Community Foundation and the Nassau County Department of Housing and Intergovernmental Affairs.

We are known for some quality food establishments that cater to all budgets and tastes. Met Food and the Bellerose Delicatessen are venues for fine Italian and Irish-imported delicacies. Arturo’s Restaurant and Calla Larga Restaurant are renowned throughout the region for their white tablecloth, upscale Italian cuisine, and the new and fabulous Greek-style Triple Crown Diner has been drawing satisfied customers from all over.

There also are Kam’s Garden, Hi Class Pizzeria and Friends Delicatessen, which are excellent sources for inexpensive but high-quality Chinese, Italian and American fare, respectively. We are close to Belmont Racetrack, the Queens County Farm Museum and four major hospital centers: Creedmoor, Long Island Jewish, Hillside and Queens Children’s.

When in our area, stop by and see what we have to offer. We can be reached at 50 Superior Rd., Bellerose Village, NY 11001, or at 718-343-8830, and you can visit our Web site at www.bellerosebusiness.org.

This series is provided by the Queens Economic Development Corp.

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