Vacant lot on Bell Blvd set for retail space

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After about eight months of construction, the lot between the Oki Beauty Salon and Pilling Real Estate on Bell Boulevard that has sat vacant for years will be vacant no more, property owner Ioannis Naoum said last week.

He bought the property, at 42-20 Bell Blvd., ?in 2009 and spent nearly three years navigating his way through the bureaucracies of the city Finance and Buildings departments.

Naoum said that a lack of communication involving a 2009 change of construction codes among himself, the DOB and the three architects he consulted stalled approval for the project.

The Department of Finance also charged him taxes and interest on the diner that used to sit on the lot before the previous owner knocked it down two years before he bought it, Naoum claimed.

“It’s still vacant, as you can see,” he said, adding “I learned. Now I know more about zoning and building codes than the architects.”

Naoum said the new 5,000-square-foot building will have retail space on the ground floor, two stories of apartments and a penthouse on top.

As for a ground-floor tenant, he does not have anyone lined up yet, but he does have some ideas.

“Probably either a bar or a restaurant. They do very well here. Daytime stuff doesn’t do so well,” he said.

Bayside Village Business Improvement District Executive Director Gregg Sullivan said he asked Naoum if he was concerned about constructing a building on speculation, especially considering the empty Lucky Bell Store front across the street.

“He said he’s just making his investment and that’s it,” Sullivan said, adding he thinks the boulevard already has enough bars.

“Bars and restaurants have done well in the past, but the right retail store can do just as well,” he said.

Sullivan said his favorite pet project right now is working to bring an anchor tenant to the former home of the First Edition bar on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road tracks.?

He did not want to jinx the deal by naming the business, but he said if all goes according to plan, it should be in place for the holiday shopping season.

A spokeswoman for Red Mango said the new store, at 42-23 Bell Blvd., between Bell Boulevard Farm and NoNo restaurant is scheduled to open this week.

Top Bagel, on the corner of 41st Avenue, continues to make and sell top bagels.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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