When The Space at Westbury opened its doors in October 2013, the village of Westbury held its breath to see the impact the renovated movie theater would have on the downtown. But nine months later, it can rest at ease knowing that the Space has successfully ignited Westbury’s revitalization, bringing in thousands of visitors each week and doing wonders for local businesses.
The Business Improvement District (BID) recently discussed Westbury’s downtown and what was to come.
“We’ve seen a tremendous impact that The Space has had on Post Avenue,” said Mayor Peter Cavallaro.
From rock bands, to comedians, to circus acts, The Space offers a diverse span of first-class concerts, performances, events and catered affairs. Representing The Space at the BID meeting was owner Cyrus Hakakian and Executive Director Bruce Michael, who gave an update on the progress of this new Post Ave. attraction.
The performing arts center has jumpstarted all of the other businesses’ successes in the downtown. “We bring in thousands of people a week and that’s not an exaggeration,” said Michael. “To get this amount of activity in our first year of operation is fantastic.”
Before the BID started improving the downtown, there were a lot of empty storefronts. But thanks to The Space, businesses are thriving, according to BID’s Executive Director, Dawn Blinn. She says that there are now only two vacant storefronts and three empty small business buildings.
“The vacancy rate is down to one of the lowest it’s ever been,” said Blinn. “The businesses that are in the BID district are reporting that they are doing phenomenally well since The Space opened.”
Post Ave. restaurants and bars have seen lots of traffic from theatergoers looking for somewhere to go for a drink or bite to eat before or after an event at The Space. Some surrounding businesses are already staying open later to accommodate show-goers, which has allowed them to thrive.
In order to better the downtown even more, The Space looks to collaborate with surrounding businesses. “Having this theater anchoring the village is a phenomenal opportunity for everybody,” said Michael.
Cavallaro’s vision is for Westbury to become one of the top downtown areas on Long Island in the next five to 10 years. He challenged the BID board to help achieve this goal.
BID president James D’Agostino said that the board is looking to hold more events, such as concerts, car shows and street fairs, in order to attract more visitors to the downtown area.
The next BID event takes place Tuesday, July 8 at 7 p.m. when the North Shore Pops will be holding a concert at the Piazza. The annual street fair will be held on Sept. 13, and will feature rides, vendors, and entertainment. Local bands are also invited to volunteer their time to perform at the street fair.
In the past couple of months, many people have come up to Cavallaro to talk about the tremendous development of the downtown area. “We have a lot more we have to do, but it’s nice to see the byproduct of a lot of work,” said Cavallaro.