The Village of Cedarhurst’s business vacancy rate has hit a seven-year low, according to village officials, who attribute the decline to the success of a variety of events and the downtown area’s appealing look, both of which help attract customer traffic.
Cedarhurst’s vacancy rate has been as high as 12 percent, Mayor Andrew Parise said, adding that the current rate of 5 percent — a drop of 2 percentage points since last year — is the lowest since 2006. The village now has 283 businesses downtown, which includes Central and Cedarhurst avenues. “Our BID draws businesses in year-round,” Parise said.
The Cedarhurst Business Improvement District is a group of business owners and landlords who, in collaboration with the village, fund enhancements to the downtown area, ranging from tree lighting to sidewalk repair.
“Our storefronts and streetscape are maintained, and we are constantly encouraging businesses to open in the community,” said Trustee Ari Brown, the village board’s liaison to the BID. “Our BID, our property owners and merchants all work together to keep business in Cedarhurst, and you can definitely see the difference.”
Brown added that the annual Sidewalk Sale, the Tuesday-night summer concerts in Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park and the Memorial Day Parade bring people to the village to shop in its stores and eat in its restaurants. “The beautiful signage and family environment attract business owners to Cedarhurst,” he said. “Families can do business here and live here; it’s the whole package.”
In comparison, Brown said, the Village of Great Neck, Cedarhurst’s sister village, had a vacancy rate of 10.7 percent in January. The affiliation is based on the similarity of the villages’ shopping districts, he said. Great Neck has more than 250 businesses.
In the interest of keeping the vacancy rate low and attracting new businesses, the village sends inspectors out on patrol every three or four months to count empty storefronts. “We like to see what’s available and what isn’t,” Brown said. “In this economy, we still have a lot of people opening jewelry and clothing stores, and you don’t see that anywhere else. This village works so well that we have double-parking issues.”
“Other villages wish they had that problem,” Parise said.
“Cedarhurst is a vibrant and busy shopping village, and so it only makes sense that the vacancy rates would be low,” said Teri Schure, executive director of the BID. “Just drive around other shopping villages on the South or North Shore and you will not see the kind of consistent traffic and patronage that Cedarhurst enjoys.”
The village also has the advantage of long-established businesses that attract repeat as well as new customers. Michael Nacht, who owns Dee Jay Carpet on Pearsall Avenue, said his parents first opened the store in 1945 on Prospect Avenue. “I grew up here, my kids grew up here and my parents were born in Rockaway — we’ve been here for generations,” Nacht said. “We’ve been around so long, and I’ve learned that if you treat people well, they’ll treat you well.”
Cedarhurst Fashion Opticians owner Larry Greenspan opened his Cedarhurst Avenue business in 1982, having come to the conclusion that the village was a fashionable area. “It’s a very nice community to be in,” he said. “There are very good people, and people have a tendency to stay in the community and shop. It’s always been an upscale and great town.”
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