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Bell Boulevard A Business Strip In Transition – QNS.com

Bell Boulevard A Business Strip In Transition

Known as one of the most popular business stretches in Queens, Bell Boulevard is currently in a transitional phase with many lots up for rent or sale.
Along a six-block stretch from 43rd Avenue to 38th Avenue, 13 lots are currently on the market on Bell Boulevard with many new social establishments — especially bars and restaurants — replacing long-existing retail tenants.
Judy Limpert, President of the Bayside Business Association, acknowledges that a shift may be occurring now, but says she is not concerned by it.
“I think it may be starting out to be that, but if the bars and restaurants are successful, it stands to reason to that the other businesses will come back and be successful,” she said.
Limpert said that it does seem that there are more properties on the market than any other time except for a stretch during the early 1990’s, but the block recovered during that period, and she is confident that it will recover again now.
“When you come out here in the evening it is crowded, but during the day you are just going to see a handful of people,” said Perry E. Berger, a licensed real estate appraiser who has been at his current location on 42nd Avenue and Bell since 1978. “Unless things change, you are not going to see a great deal of retail coming in here. They will go to Bay Terrace where the parking is terrific; they can go to one place and can get anything they need.”
While a number of factors may be contributing to the increase in retail businesses leaving the strip, some believe it is the expiration of leases and an increase in rents that is driving existing tenants away.
“I think a lot of leases have come up, and with these older leases, when the landlord comes in and when they want higher rents, the renters can’t afford it,” said Betsy Pilling, from Francis Lee Pilling Real Estate located on Bell Boulevard. Pilling said that she believes rents for spaces that went for close to $2,500 between eight to 10 years ago are now going for nearly $6,000.
“The landlords are cashing out,” Limpert said. “The landlords are not renewing the leases of the tenants.”
“Some of the operations that have been here for many years at a certain comfort level of rents were reasonably low and had a small clientele that they could count on,” Berger said. However, he acknowledged, this may no longer be the case.
One of the highest valued properties is the one formerly occupied by A. Kraus and Son, located at 43-23 Bell Boulevard. It has 75 feet of retail space on the front side as well as 75 feet facing 214th Place, which is currently being used as a parking lot. It has been on the market for two months, and the property has a suggested offering price of nearly $12 million.
One of the reasons for the high value of the lot, represented by Joseph A. Cappello of Massey Knakal Realty Services, is because it can be delivered vacant, increasing its appeal to potential developers or investors.
Although there is a transition taking place, not everyone is concerned about a bleak future for the area.
“I am an optimist, so I don’t look at it as a negative thing,” Limpert said. “Bayside will always be affluent and always be successful.”
pdavis@queenscourier.com

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