Officials tout potential of shack off Staten Island boardwalk
With its broad, beachfront views and lack of business competition, a shuttered shack on the Midland Beach boardwalk near Jefferson Avenue could embody the maxim: “Location, location, location.”
That was the message trumpeted yesterday by the borough parks commissioner and Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid Island/Brooklyn) as they stood in front of the circa-1950s structure, urging the creative-minded to come forward with proposals for a beachfront business.
“The right kind of proposal could really work,” said borough Parks commissioner Thomas Paulo. The city Parks Department plans to rent the building. “As more and more people discover the beach, the possibilities are really out there.”
A request for proposals was issued Monday and people have until late September to make the case they have the vision, resources and drive to renovate and operate the shop over a 15-year lease.
But it’s not just a hot dog and pretzel stand the Parks Department is seeking.
According to the agency, a “high-quality cafe with an optional beach shop,” could “incorporate a ‘seaside’ theme by having a menu that has several seafood options and that are inventive and interesting.”
More than a decade ago, a basic snack shop was run out of the one-story building — a flat-roof structure that yesterday seemed much in need of TLC, with crumbling concrete and water leaks.
For now, Ben and Jerry’s is the only such casual beachfront business along the boardwalk.
The Victory Diner should reopen near the boardwalk as early as 2011, as part of a mega-entertainment complex slated for the corner of Capodanno Boulevard and Seaview Avenue, but Paulo offered assurance that it wouldn’t siphon business from this venture.
“That has its own appeal,” he said.
Foot and beach traffic will increase with shade pavilions set to be erected next season, less than a hundred feet from the structure, Paulo said.
Discussion is also under way about an athletic field covered by a bubble that could be used in inclement weather — a discussion that began more than a decade ago.
“People are coming back to the beach and now we should give them great amenities,” said Oddo, who pushed the Parks Department to move forward with the cafe reopening and also envisions a possible health club-type facility nearby. “I think there’s an entrepreneurial spirit out there in Staten Island and people will have great ideas about how to make money here. In this fiscal climate, there may be a universe of people who maybe lost their jobs and want to try something new.”
Down the boardwalk, at the Ben and Jerry’s franchise, which opened in South Beach in 2007, manager Joe Erickson agreed the business opportunity has potential, but he cautioned that profits do fluctuate.
“It’s very seasonal,” he said. “You have your good days, but then you have your rain days. It’s weather-related.”
Meanwhile, potential customers seemed to be champing at the bit for such a cafe.
“I would definitely like to see something there,” said Laura Claire of Midland Beach, who had taken pretzels for her toddlers to eat during their outing. “I’d be happy with just the basics, nothing fancy, just some beach food.”
A tour of the site will be conducted Aug. 20 at 1 p.m.
For more information on the request for proposals, go to www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities.