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Friday, October 24, 2014

Business Beat
First a flood, then a fire for Merrick Road business
Dakota Design Center is rebuilding, with a little help from friends
Scott Brinton/Herald
Salcedo with her faux finisher, Bob Hulburt. Hulburt brought her generators and kerosene lanterns after the storm to help her get back on her feet.

Ever since Patricia Salcedo started a small window-treatment business at age 25 in a rented 700-square-foot space at a Valley Stream flooring shop nearly 25 years ago, she had dreamed of opening her own design showroom –– a big, bold, beautiful space where clients and designers could sit in comfort and plan. Seven years ago, Salcedo realized that dream, opening the Dakota Design Center on Merrick Road in Merrick, off the Meadowbrook Parkway.

In six hours on Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy destroyed the showroom, flooding the 10,000-square-foot center from all sides. The showroom stood front and center in one of the hardest-hit sections of the Merrick Road business district. The area is just north of Merrick Bay, and the Dakota Design Center faces a canal that leads to the bay. When a 10-foot tidal surge rushed across the wetlands and up the canal, it headed straight for the center.

Salcedo has pledged to rebuild the center, a “one-stop” home-furnishings showroom that houses her design business, P.S. Micaza Interiors. In the meantime, her business is still very much alive at Republic Lighting in Bellmore, where she had rented a space from owner Rich Adler for 12 years before opening the design center.

Sickening devastation

Salcedo, who grew up in Queens, moved to Valley Stream when she first started her business and now lives in Bellmore, worked furiously with her design team in the days after Sandy to salvage what they could from the muck-covered remains the storm left. Then another catastrophe struck.

When power was restored to the Merrick Road business district the weekend after the storm, the showroom caught fire. Its interior was gutted, but its distinctive stuccoed exterior walls remained standing.

“It was so devastating,” Salcedo said. “I was sick. I wasn’t eating. I just felt that emptiness.”

The Dakota Design Center has become known throughout the Merrick-Bellmore community for its charity work in recent years, playing host to numerous fundraisers. Most recently, it held a breast cancer awareness fundraiser, which the Herald covered in its Sept. 27-Oct. 3 issue.

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