JAMAICA — Several shops along one of neighborhood's busiest commercial corridors just got a makeover thanks to a city grant to help beautify the area and attract more shoppers.
Seven storefronts along Sutphin Boulevard, between Hillside Avenue and 88th Avenue, shed their old awnings of various colors and shapes, and replaced them with the same grey brick facades instead that give the stretch a unified look, store owners and city officials said.
“It’s beautiful and the community loves it,” said Mario Paz, manager at F&S Discount and Variety which is one of the stores that got the new look. “Our business has improved already because people are coming to check it out.”
Other stores that also got the new facade include Boost Mobile, Deli & Grill, Metro PCS, Wine & Liquor and Popeyes.
“It looks clean and nice,” said Ali Awad, manager at Deli & Grill.
The initiative which came with a price tag of around $250,000 was partially covered by the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District and local storeowners, as well as by a $95,000 grant awarded to the BID as part of the the city's Department of Small Business Services annual “Neighborhood Challenge" initiative.
In 2014, the BID, which represents more than 130 businesses located between Hillside and 94th avenues, came up with a set of guidelines for local businesses to follow a similar design.
“The property owners and the business owners have a stake in making this happen,” said Glenn Greenidge, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard BID.
This year, the group also received a $300,000 New York Main Street grant from the state to beautify more storefronts along the busy Sutphin Boulevard, which features two courthouses, the Jamaica AirTrain station as well as a recently opened Starbucks, Greenidge said.
“What we would love to do is to transform this whole corridor grant after grant after grant,” he said.
Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services said the agency “loved the design.”
“These projects make a lot of impact when its multiple storefronts so there is a tangible difference from the corner all the way almost to the middle of the block,” Bishop said. “We hope other property owners will work with us as more opportunities become available to improve their storefronts as well.”
Councilman Rory Lancman said the makeover is part of a larger push to revitalize downtown Jamaica, making it “more inviting for shoppers, for residents, for tourists.”
“As you make the turn from Hillside onto Sutphin, which is how most people get onto the strip, you are now greeted by this beautiful facade, this beautiful image of an orderly clean, nice and esthetically pleasing commercial strip,” Lancman said. “That’s going to mean something special for these individual businesses … and it also means something for all the businesses on the strip and the whole community.”