By Rich Bockmann
It started with an arts-and-crafts festival last year and then during the past winter, Bell Boulevard’s lampposts were strewn with holiday lights.
And with new businesses in town and a promotional campaign planned, Bayside Village Business Improvement District Executive Director Gregg Sullivan thinks the neighborhood’s main drag is primed for a booming and exciting spring.
“The area has a new atmosphere,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “I think it’s safe to say its the first time in 15 years Bayside has seen street events and street activity.”
Sullivan said he made bringing pedestrian traffic back to Bell one of his main initiatives when he took over as executive director a year and a half ago, and to that end the BID has undertaken a beautification campaign that will make the area more attractive to shoppers and businesses alike.
“For whatever reason, it’s kind of lost its luster. My whole job is bringing it back,” he said.
As part of this effort, Sullivan put his sights on the light poles that line the streets, and earlier this month they were adorned with American flag banners, courtesy of area businesses, including the new Community National Bank on 43rd Avenue. The BID is currently applying for grants and working with the Long Island Rail Road in order to spruce up the area near the station.
“It’s going to be a big restoration, with landscaping and new trees. We’re going to try to move the garbage dumpster next to Sullivan’s, and hopefully we’ll get a gazebo,” Sullivan said.
He said he is also looking into planting more trees along the boulevard, which should provide a picturesque background to the events the BID is planning in the coming months. Sullivan said he has just filed the permits for a fashion show, two arts-and-crafts festivals and a neighborhood block party. The BID has also partnered with the Bayside Historical Society, and Sullivan said they will be looking to pair showings of historic films featuring former Bayside residents with dinner deals at local restaurants in August.
Sullivan said that whether a business is new, such as Bell Burger on 40th Avenue or Mr. Wasabi at 42-32 Bell Blvd., or an old favorite returning to the area like Payless Shoes on 43rd Avenue, the area’s new life is proof positive that the BID’s active solicitation of businesses is paying off.
“I’ve been promoting us like crazy, spending extra money on advertising,” he said. Social media, too, has played a big part in the campaign.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.