Great Neck Plaza mayor details success in downtown vitalization

Great Neck Plaza mayor details success in downtown vitalization
Great Neck Plaza Mayor Ted Rosen speaks in front of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

In the past two years, more than 47 businesses have opened in Great Neck Plaza, which Mayor Ted Rosen attributed to the government’s inviting nature and supporting services. But he said the village is not stopping there.

“With the downtown goes the community as the downtown, we know, is vital to the community,” Rosen said.

The mayor returned to speak in front of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce for his second time Thursday morning, the first and last occurrence happening in 1985.

He detailed in his speech the state of Great Neck Plaza, which included its history of growth and development as well as its future trajectory.

The speech came just a week after the village was named New York State’s the No. 1 community in which to live.

“We in the village government know that the Plaza has been for many, many years a great place to live, to work, to shop,” Rosen said. “And we’re very proud of that.”

Rosen outlined his priorities, including downtown vitalization, honoring diversity, infrastructure improvements, pedestrian and traffic safety, fiscal responsibility and continued essential services.

In the past two years, more than 47 businesses have opened in the village. Rosen said the 47 businesses were just those that had to seek a permit before opening, estimating even more have arrived that did not require permit approval.

Rosen attributed the business growth to the village government’s warmness in welcoming new businesses, achieved through support services, expedited permit processes and informal recruitment.

One example of its support is evident at the end of every public hearing when a permit is awarded to a business where Rosen extends an invitation to publicize their opening in the village’s E-newsletter.

As for businesses that already exist within the village, Rosen said they, too, are supported through its various events, free Hofstra-led courses on social media marketing and grant-funded facade upgrades.

But despite its success as a top community, Rosen said Great Neck Plaza has had its fair share of challenges just like every other village. These challenges, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth of online shopping, have directly hit its downtown.

Over time, Great Neck’s demographics have changed and Rosen said for businesses to survive it is necessary to appeal to its changing population.

“I for one, with my colleagues, are very happy to celebrate that Great Neck is a very diverse community,” Rosen said. “And I think that’s something that we should all be proud of. However, from a retail perspective, it’s a challenge because you have to find the right businesses that are going to be supported by the population in that community.”

While businesses have risen to the occasion and found support in the community, Rosen said it is an ongoing challenge that continuously needs to be addressed.

Beyond a focus on businesses to serve its diverse community, Rosen said the village has also sought through its programs and events to honor diversity.

After a series of such events, like its United Against Hate forum, Rosen said he is looking to continue offering these programs.

“We think the village should do many things for serving all of its population,” Rosen said. “And I don’t just mean the Great Neck Plaza residents. People wherever in the Great Neck community or elsewhere are welcome to attend.”

Through all of the village’s accomplishments, Rosen said one of his greatest points of pride is the diverse community.

“Great Neck can really go out and make a name for itself, not that it has to, but to make a name for itself as a warm, welcoming community for everybody whatever the person’s background is,” Rosen said.

But Great Neck Plaza is not only being appreciated by its residents as it now faces a broader audience after being used for filming a series of episodes for “Law and Order: Organized Crime.” Rosen said this not only draws attraction to the village but also serves as a revenue stream.

With a plethora of growth and accomplishments to account for in recent years, Rosen said the village is not stopping there.

“We will continue to work, among the challenges, to promote the beauty of our village, to celebrate our diversity and to keep the downtown as vibrant as it is, not only to stay at the level but to improve and increase the vibrancy of the downtown, and as well to maintain all the important services that villages can provide to their residents,” Rosen said. “We hope to continue doing that for a long time and successfully.”

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