Take a quick drive around West Hempstead and you can see lots of signs of current and potential growth.
There is an empty, clean space at 101 Hempstead Turnpike, where a dilapidated building stood for more than 15 years. New businesses have moved into the Cherry Valley Shopping Center; one did so specifically because the location was highly recommended for a franchise. A public hearing on Jan. 11 will focus on a proposal to build a Starbucks at the corner of Nassau Boulevard and Hempstead Turnpike.
And that’s not all. There is much going on behind the scenes in the community as the new year begins, thanks to the rigorous joint and group efforts of its two civic associations, its business owners and residents, who are working with elected officials, real estate firms, town government, police, and local and national businesses to make the area shine in 2017.
Bill Bowe, who sits on the executive board of the Cathedral Gardens Civic Association, said that he and fellow board members Regina Todd and Glenn Barnett, along with Rosalie Norton, president of the West Hempstead Community Support Association, are mobilizing to make things happen. Last week, Bowe and other members of the civic associations met with Ken Breslin, president of Breslin Realty Development Corp., to discuss the future of 101 Hempstead Turnpike.
“I’m optimistic that now that the building has been taken down, things will start moving in the right direction,” said Bowe, who declined to mention any potential new tenants for the property, which sits next to another Breslin property occupied by a vacant IHop restaurant that closed several months ago.
“We’ve asked Mr. Breslin to speak to different people that we’d like to have come in,” Norton said. “We don’t need any more automotive businesses. A sit-down restaurant or something in the way of a retailer that would benefit the community would be ideal.”
Several new businesses that came to West Hempstead late in 2016 included Wayback Burgers and Experimac, which buys, sells and repairs Apple products. Okey Nwanna, president of the Experimac store in West Hempstead, said the store opened at the end of October, and that the location was a recommendation of the chain’s headquarters. “The space, the storefront, the parking we have available — that’s why we’re here,” Nwanna said.
Bowe said he was also working with the Town of Hempstead on several projects, two of which would be the paving of Westminster Road and adding streetscaping to the stretch of Hempstead Turnpike from Westminster Road to the Roslyn Bank. “Westminster Road desperately needs to be paved,” said Bowe, adding that he has been writing to the town for four years about it, and has been told that it’s going to happen.
Of the streetscaping effort, he said, “We’re trying to get that section up and running, so hopefully it’ll spread to other parts of the turnpike.” Bowe said he was working with Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer, who stated through a county press representative that she is trying her best to facilitate the improvements, but Hempstead Turnpike is a state road and she cannot be in charge of the project.
“She is reaching out to the state representatives and the town to see if she can encourage people to put a plan together,” said Cristina Brennan, deputy director of communications for the Legislature’s Republican majority. Schaefer is also applying for state grants to help facilitate the process, Brennan added.
In addition to these efforts, other improvements on the horizon include the renovation of 14 apartments at 106-108 Hempstead Turnpike that caught fire earlier this year. Applications for permits have been filed with the town, the building’s owner, Erik Wieboldt, said, and work should begin in several months. “We’re going to be gutting everything down to the frames,” Wieboldt said. “The fire really caused a lot of damage.” The apartments range in size from studios to two-bedrooms.
West Hempstead resident, real estate developer and entrepreneur Barry Leon said he expected to receive approvals of all requested permits to build 54 Tudor-style one- and two-bedroom apartments at 40 Hempstead Gardens Drive by the end of January. The project, Leon said, has been more than seven years in the making.
“When the spring comes in, we’ll have bulldozers and other things digging up the basements and pouring the concrete and building the three-story buildings,” Leon said last week. “Over the course of a year, we’ll hopefully have a finished product.”