Community Enrichment Mini-Center closes
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Despite the CEmC shutting its doors, Berman said she would continue to seek alternate venues for art exhibitions. “We have a tremendous amount of resources here for culture and I’m just tapping into it and bringing it to the forefront,” she said of the Five Towns. “I’ve talked to some of the places that I have exhibited at in the past to figure out the next step. The local community deserves to be connected to the local arts.”
Berman has also been working with Jamie Wysocki, president of the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association (HWBA), to possibly display artwork in the windows of empty stores in the community. “I want to see where that goes and I hope something comes out of it,” Berman said.
Wysocki, owner of Dance Express on Broadway in Woodmere, said a small office, not retail store, would occupy the CEmC’s space. She believes that to attract more businesses to the Hewlett-Woodmere community, landlords need to reduce rent prices. “The biggest rock that we keep running into is the owners of the property are unwilling to lower rents,” she said. “The CEmC was a tenant of mine and I gave them a very low rental rate, less than a third of what it was worth. Landlords don’t want to be bothered, they would rather see their places empty instead of filling the stores and making our community more valuable.”
The HWBA has been reaching out to franchises in hopes of attracting them to the community. An upscale restaurant, according to Wysocki, has expressed interest in the former Woodmere-Lawrence Methodist Church property on Broadway in Woodmere. “They would keep the church but renovate the inside for the restaurant,” she said. “We were able to get Red Mango to open in Hewlett and we’ve been in touch with Michael Kors. They’ve shown interest but are slow in communication so that seems to be the next shop that may be coming in; we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Schockett hopes to continue helping community-based organizations and individuals, without the storefront location. “If we can figure out a better method of re-establishing this or aspects of this we will,” she said. “It was a community effort and I have a lot of really good memories there. A lot of good things happened.”