The 60-year old retail property is on track to receive modern-esque facade upgrades to buildings and its entryway sign on Bell Boulevard. And in an effort to improve traffic safety, new pedestrian walkways and outdoor seating will be added to create a more versatile space that can also host community events. The new plan prioritized accommodating older residents who may walk to the center from their homes, and the youth who ride their bikes throughout.
“It kind of just all fell together. When the company was willing to make that investment, we hit the ground running, and that’s what we’re watching today,” said Joe Forgione, Cord Meyer vice president and Bay Terrace project lead. “There was potential for us to grow our connection to the community, something that’s been a part of the Cord Meyer tradition forever.”
A revitalization project was always on the horizon for Cord Meyer, the owner of the Bay Terrace property, but the pandemic propelled the forward-thinking vision. Community groups wanted to have events in the parking lot to allow for social distancing, and at the same time restaurants in the center wanted to offer outdoor dining. Malls around the world also began to rethink how they utilize their space to keep drawing people in.
“This is huge. We’re going to see economic growth, which is so badly needed,” said Council Member Vickie Paladino who represents the area and attended the ribbon cutting. “Their plans are always community minded, and reflect their love of the community. To watch people with heart and soul bring this community back economically makes me feel so excited.”
Foot traffic at brick and mortars began to drop even before the pandemic, with online shopping growing in accessibility. And then the pandemic made it even harder for storefronts to stay afloat. Even at Bay Terrace, several crowd favorites were forced to close their doors due to financial strain.
Both the Cord Meyer team, elected officials and locals hope that the plan will revitalize the community. The developers hope to be as minimally disruptive as possible, despite the upcoming construction planned in stages until 2025. After the permits come through, they hope to begin facade work before the end of the year. And in the spring, they plan to begin putting down the new pedestrian pathways and outdoor seating areas.
The construction on the second floor of one building, which used to have a movie theater and but more recently housed an Applebees, is already underway. It is confirmed that the second floor will be leased to a fitness center, but despite circulating rumors, the specific gym has not been confirmed yet. The negotiation process is still underway.
Several of the long standing businesses in the center are also welcoming the project with open arms. Despite not garnering business at pre-pandemic levels, they’re bouncing back and they hope that the redesign will only strengthen that trend.
Christie & Co Salon, which opened in the center in 1992 after years on Bell Boulevard, recently underwent their own remodel this year. Longtime owner Lois Christie told QNS she is glad to see the developers investing in the redevelopment of the whole property.
“Looking at all the malls that close, I’m very happy the landlord has the vision and the foresight and, frankly, is able to put the investment in to say this is how the new retail is going to look,” said Christie. “Bayside has always been changing.”
Another longtime business, Ben’s Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant, is a local destination for their pastrami and house made corned beef. Despite maintaining their classic appearance since opening in 1994 they’re happy the center is modernizing. They’re mostly looking forward to bringing back the outdoor dining they temporarily offered during the pandemic.
“People want outdoor time. People want open air dining, regardless of where it is. Whether it’s in their shopping center or by the water,” said manager Craig Davide.
He added that they often get calls inquiring about outdoor dining, even at their other locations. But since a new business opened next door, they haven’t been able to set it up without blocking their entrance.
Both Ben’s and Christie & Co Salon recently renewed their lease for another 10 years.
“I look forward to it. I think the sooner the better,” noted Christie. “We’re just ready for the new. Everybody likes something new and exciting.”