The West Hempstead Chamber of Commerce is working to keep the hamlet attractive and bring new businesses to roughly 20 vacant storefronts.
In the fall, the chamber began encouraging building owners on Hempstead Turnpike and Hempstead Avenue to keep up their appearances by adding new benches, garbage cans and planters.
Chamber president Karl Reisterer said some property owners have mowed their lawns, cleaned up litter and made storefront repairs. But he says there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We just want to make West Hempstead into a community where businesses can come to flourish,” Reisterer said.
Demetrius Drallios, owner of five storefronts along Hempstead Avenue since 1982, said he supports the chamber’s efforts.
“It hurts everybody, not only me, when [potential tenants] drive by they see how many stores are ugly and then they make a decision,” the Roslyn man said.
Drallios, who currently has one vacant storefront, has seen the neighborhood fluctuate, but for him renting to tenants is simple.
“If anybody wants the city girl to get married she has to look nice,” he said.
Reisterer, 74, plans to meet next week with Nassau County Legislator Vincent Muscarella and Hempstead Councilman Ed Ambrosino. He hopes to get help from the elected officials who can compel property owners to improve the look of the hamlet.
He said a presentable business district is necessary to economic success because ugly storefronts and neighborhoods will drive away newcomers.
“If you are going to rent a store and it looks pretty are you going to rent it? Yes.” Reisterer said. “If it doesn’t they are going to say ‘Well there are other neighborhoods around that look pretty.’”