SUNNYSIDE — A new program is looking to bring more shopping options to Sunnyside, following a market analysis that found the neighborhood is underserved when it comes clothing stores, houseware stores and full-service restaurants.
It found that Sunnyside residents spend about $227 million outside the neighborhood each year — money the BID would like to see spent locally — and that the area has a higher ratio of retail services than retail goods.
"There [are] more places that provide a service, like a nail salon or a hair salon or a medical office, than there are places where you can buy shoes," said the BID's executive director Rachel Thieme.
Specifically, the study found an unmet demand in the district for clothing, shoes, home furnishings and full-service restaurants, and the BID is hoping to attract more of these retailers under a new program that aims to widen the variety of the neighborhood's shopping options.
Launched with support from the city's Dept. of Small Businesses Services, the Retail Attraction Program aims to identify underserved retail sectors in the neighborhood, then try to draw those types of retailers to Sunnyside through marketing and partnerships with local real estate brokers, Thieme said.
"We are going to go after these certain types of retailers and try and match them with some of the vacancies we have in the neighborhood," she said, saying the BID hopes to engage with willing property owners to help them find retail tenants that would add to the neighborhood's shopping scene.
"Instead of renting to another discount store, let's take a look and go after the types of retailers that woud really enchance the mix of what we have," she said.
In addition to the JGSC reports, the BID is using the findings from a shopper survey it conducted with residents last summer, which Thieme said also revealed a demand for a clothing and home good stores, as well as an independent coffee shop.
The BID will be sending out marketing materials about Sunnyside to around 200 prospective retailers, and will also work with real estate brokers to try and market the district's vacant commercial properties to the identified types of businesses.
A list of available storefronts within the BID's boundaries, which spans Queens Boulevard between 38th and 50th Streets, and Greenpoint Avenue from Queens Boulevard to 42nd and 43rd Streets, will be featured on the Sunnyside Shines website.
The neighborhood's commericial vacancy rate is low, JGSC's report found — just 19, or 6.5 percent of the neighborhood's nearly 300 storefronts are empty, compared to levels of 9 or 10 percent that have been common in retail corridors in the outer boroughs in recent years.
Thiemes said there are about five vacant properties in the district that are currently available for new commercial tenants.
The BID has already been drawing new retail in recent months, and had 10 new businesses open in 2013, including Italian eatery Venturo and a new pet store. Thiemes said she hopes the new program will bring even more options.
"The district has so much going for it already, but could really be enhanced with a better variety of retail offerings," she said in a statement.