Richard Shiu, left, and Anthony Martincic, co-owners of Franwin Pharmacy Mineola...

Richard Shiu, left, and Anthony Martincic, co-owners of Franwin Pharmacy Mineola Surgical, outside their business recently. Shiu said as Mineola officials work to improve the village's downtown, they could do more to address safety concerns. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Mineola officials are looking to revitalize the village's downtown and plan to tackle the problem of vacant properties and invest in facade improvements with the help of a state grant.

Their revitalization efforts received a boost in January when the state awarded the community a $4.5 million NY Forward program grant, which dedicates funding to invigorating downtown neighborhoods in smaller communities.

Just a few weeks later, the state doubled down on its support for Mineola and certified its application as a “pro-housing” community, which rewards local governments for addressing housing needs by allowing officials to tap into extra state incentives.

“I think that we are on the cusp of really turning the corner and making, specifically Mineola’s downtown, attractive for residents, attractive for businesses and attractive for our residents,” Mayor Paul Pereira said in an interview.

Other key areas village officials have targeted for improvements include lighting and sidewalks and potentially adding a village green space.

When it comes to housing, Pereira said about 1,400 new residential units have been created since 2010, with 725 more in the pipeline.

While Mineola is a hub during the daytime because of its Long Island Rail Road station, NYU Langone — Long Island hospital, a county court complex and office buildings, it lacks that same vibrancy at night, officials noted. Pereira said a denser population in the downtown area could make a difference.

“We hope that once we create a critical mass down there, that this will translate into more people investing in the community,” he said.

Business owners on Mineola Boulevard have expressed a desire for upgrades, but some, like Richard Shiu, co-owner of Franwin Pharmacy Mineola Surgical, said the village could do more to address safety concerns.

“In less than a year, we’ve been broken into twice,” Shiu said in an interview.

He said he wanted to add a gate to the store for security purposes but village officials turned down the proposal.

On the other hand, Shiu said the village seems to be going in the right direction with housing, though he hasn’t seen much of a difference in his business yet.

He pointed to nearby Garden City and said the village could be more like a “little brother” to the vibrant community, but they’re like a “distant cousin” instead.

Angela Grigorakos, a manager at Spaghettini Pizza and Italian Restaurant, said the village could have more concerts on Second Street, clean the area better and focus on parking, which could enhance the downtown's appeal.

“From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. it’s a rush but then it dies down a little. Night could be a bit busier, but a lot of places keep shutting down around here,” she said.

The downtown needs more restaurants and bars, with more apartments becoming available and more young residents moving to the area, Grigorakos added.

Thomas Savino, president of community development firm Vision Accomplished, is a contractor working with the village to improve the downtown.

He said the NY Forward grant will help village officials highlight, market and improve the benefits Mineola already offers, such as the living spaces and businesses. He previously collaborated with officials in Westbury and Farmingdale to help improve those downtowns.

“When you start to increase the commerce that goes on in the nighttime, there are more lights on … and not only does it help the aesthetics, but also the safety,” Savino added.

Mineola officials are looking to revitalize the village's downtown and plan to tackle the problem of vacant properties and invest in facade improvements with the help of a state grant.

Their revitalization efforts received a boost in January when the state awarded the community a $4.5 million NY Forward program grant, which dedicates funding to invigorating downtown neighborhoods in smaller communities.

Just a few weeks later, the state doubled down on its support for Mineola and certified its application as a “pro-housing” community, which rewards local governments for addressing housing needs by allowing officials to tap into extra state incentives.

“I think that we are on the cusp of really turning the corner and making, specifically Mineola’s downtown, attractive for residents, attractive for businesses and attractive for our residents,” Mayor Paul Pereira said in an interview.

Other key areas village officials have targeted for improvements include lighting and sidewalks and potentially adding a village green space.

When it comes to housing, Pereira said about 1,400 new residential units have been created since 2010, with 725 more in the pipeline.

While Mineola is a hub during the daytime because of its Long Island Rail Road station, NYU Langone — Long Island hospital, a county court complex and office buildings, it lacks that same vibrancy at night, officials noted. Pereira said a denser population in the downtown area could make a difference.

“We hope that once we create a critical mass down there, that this will translate into more people investing in the community,” he said.

Business owners on Mineola Boulevard have expressed a desire for upgrades, but some, like Richard Shiu, co-owner of Franwin Pharmacy Mineola Surgical, said the village could do more to address safety concerns.

“In less than a year, we’ve been broken into twice,” Shiu said in an interview.

He said he wanted to add a gate to the store for security purposes but village officials turned down the proposal.

On the other hand, Shiu said the village seems to be going in the right direction with housing, though he hasn’t seen much of a difference in his business yet.

He pointed to nearby Garden City and said the village could be more like a “little brother” to the vibrant community, but they’re like a “distant cousin” instead.

Angela Grigorakos, a manager at Spaghettini Pizza and Italian Restaurant, said the village could have more concerts on Second Street, clean the area better and focus on parking, which could enhance the downtown's appeal.

“From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. it’s a rush but then it dies down a little. Night could be a bit busier, but a lot of places keep shutting down around here,” she said.

The downtown needs more restaurants and bars, with more apartments becoming available and more young residents moving to the area, Grigorakos added.

Thomas Savino, president of community development firm Vision Accomplished, is a contractor working with the village to improve the downtown.

He said the NY Forward grant will help village officials highlight, market and improve the benefits Mineola already offers, such as the living spaces and businesses. He previously collaborated with officials in Westbury and Farmingdale to help improve those downtowns.

“When you start to increase the commerce that goes on in the nighttime, there are more lights on … and not only does it help the aesthetics, but also the safety,” Savino added.

Proposed grant money spending

Redevelopment of vacant or underutilized commercial properties: $1.75 million 

Facade upgrades: $650,000

Lighting upgrades: $550,000

Walkability improvements: $1.2 million

Signs: $200,000

Marketing for downtown and local businesses: $150,000

Source: Mineola's NY Forward application

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