It’s never boring living above the store in downtown LI

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Earlier this year, Freeport’s Monica Borja faced a housing dilemma. The lease ended on the Freeport house she rented near the Nautical Mile while she searched for a house on Long Island. Borja already owned a home in Poconos, Pennsylvania, where she had lived before moving to Long Island, but she and her boyfriend wanted to stay in Freeport to be near her mother.

“I didn’t want to take care of two houses,” says Borja, 48, financial director of a Long Island car dealership. Instead, they decided to go in search of an apartment.

The solution? A one-bedroom apartment Coach Realtors broker Mary Kennedy found for them on the Nautical Mile above a Greek restaurant and gift shop. In April, the couple moved into the apartment, which features cathedral ceilings, an open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area, a ‘huge’ bedroom and a bathroom. terrace by the water, says Borja.

“This is a great location for anyone looking for excitement, nightlife and dining,” Kennedy said.

Living amidst the bars, restaurants and seafood markets of the legendary Boulevard appeals to Borja, who likes to walk to the nearby Halfway Down bar / restaurant for the occasional sip of Gray Goose. “Believe it or not, it’s very quiet,” says Borja, who gets up every day at 7 a.m. to jog at a local marina or do yoga on the deck. Club music ends at 11pm, “so it’s not loud” at bedtime either, she adds. The only downside is the heavy traffic on Woodcleft Avenue, the street from the Nautical Mile that ends at the water’s edge.

“You have that vibe of being in a downtown social scene,” Borja says, “but at the same time you have the calm and zen-ness of being on the water.”

All nearby

A store perch might not be the first thing Long Islanders think of in terms of suburban living, but it does have its virtues – like a short walk to the drugstore, grocery store, and restaurants. public transport, according to past and current occupants. And it’s a centuries-old tradition for merchants who have lived above their own stores.

“You wake up, take a shower and come to work. You don’t have to move around or try to find a parking space,” says Ayhan Hassan, 69, who lived briefly in an apartment he now rents. above his restaurant in Port. Washington, Mediterranean Grill Shish Kebab from Ayhan.

Hassan, who also rents apartments on his Mediterranean Marketplace & Café across from the restaurant, says his tenants enjoy main street views and a “bohemian” lifestyle. Cafes, shops, parks, the town wharf and a library are all within walking distance of the house.

A bustling city center also awaits future tenants of the apartments towering above the first-floor offices of Jovia Financial Credit Union in Huntington Village. Five one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments will be spread over the existing 4000 square foot second floor, which is being converted from office space, and a new 4000 square foot third floor. square which is added to the brick- building facing New York Avenue and Elm Street.

While Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci noted that the project was approved before the current administration took office and limitations on new development were passed, “Our planning council has does a magnificent job ensuring that the aesthetic of the building’s design preserves the charm and beauty of the neighborhood. “With restaurants and theaters close by, Lupinacci added,” Residents will enjoy world-class cuisine, top-notch entertainment and cultural amenities just steps away. “

Deep roots on LI

While living above the store today puts apartment dwellers in close proximity to the good life – and what real estate websites call “the walkability” – the installation dates back at least to the last century, when immigrant families opened mom-and-pop stores in downtown Long Island, and needed a convenient place to sleep at night.

Nancy Solomon, executive director of the nonprofit Long Island Traditions in Port Washington, explains that in the 1920s, small shops and stores were owned by immigrants who had moved to Great Neck after living in the city. “Great Neck first became popular because of its proximity to the train that could take commuters to the Garment District, where many residents worked, in just 35 minutes,” says Solomon, who was a historical preservation consultant for the village of Great Neck Plaza. . “They found it more affordable and convenient to live above the store, saving money to buy a house later.”

Great Neck Plaza was home to The Wychwood, a seven-story luxury apartment building built in 1929 with a restaurant on the ground floor. Residents could order meals from the restaurant to be delivered via a dumbwaiter to their apartment, Solomon said. The building is currently a cooperative.

In the last century, Patchogue also housed many such apartments, says Steven Lucas, 74, of Patchogue, treasurer of the Greater Patchogue Historical Society.

Along with Bay Shore and Riverhead, the village of South Shore was then a major commercial destination in Suffolk County, says Lucas, author of “Patchogue Past and Present,” a 2020 photographic history book. The main street in the city center de Patchogue and North and South Ocean avenues were lined with retail stores with second-story apartments, Lucas says. “A lot of family store owners and operators lived in the back or above the store. A lot of them were Italian or Jewish immigrants,” says Lucas. Among its sources is a Patchogue telephone directory from 1926 showing lists of business and home numbers at the same address.

Lucas says that as families grew and finances improved, many traders gave up apartment living and bought single-family homes. From the 1960s, malls and big box stores attracted consumers. Nowadays, “most of these structures [with apartments above the shop] are restaurants, and the upper floors have tables “for overflow seating in Patchogue’s bustling restaurant scene,” he says.

Three generations

At the modern Cieslak Bakery in Lindenhurst, the second-floor apartment still exists, says Eileen Biggs, the third generation in her family to own and operate the bakery, founded by her Ukrainian immigrant grandmother, Katherine Cieslak.

Today, the apartment houses the offices of the bakery. And although there is no tenant, the grandchildren are playing in the living room when Biggs is working downstairs.

“When we were kids, when our parents worked, we played up there,” Biggs says.

The upstairs apartment with “a living room, three bedrooms and the kitchen at the back of the store” was built in 1934 along with the storefront bakery, Biggs says. His grandparents were living in another family member owned Lindenhurst bakery when they decided to go into business. Three generations of the family lived in the apartment, including Biggs’ mother, aunt and cousins. Biggs’ mother returned in 2000 after being widowed and lived there until her death in 2015.

Biggs remembers running downstairs to get some hot freshly baked bread and celebrating Christmas and Easter with his cousins.

You can see Wellwood Avenue from the apartment windows. “It’s beautiful lit up at night,” Biggs says. “And you can feel the cooking downstairs coming through the windows.”

Growing up on the store

When Janet Grunwald gave a gig in Port Washington last month with her classic rock cover band, “Shindig,” she revisited her own old gold – the building on Main Street where her family lived above their grocery store in from the middle of the year. 1960s.

Brothers All “was the typical local market for moms and people”, selling produce, dairy, meat and other staples, remembers Grunwald, 57, a high school English teacher living in Leeds. , Massachusetts. Living with her family in one of the six apartments upstairs, “the grocery store was a daily visit versus a weekly trip,” she says. “My room faced the main street, but the noise from the street never bothered me.” She could see the holiday lights outside her window in winter. Her father worked downstairs and could take her to school, and the Long Island Rail Road station was across the street into town.

Janet Grunwald’s mother lived in the building until 2003. Today Schmear Bakery & Market occupies the former grocery space.

Grunwald, who lives in a rural area, says what she misses most about the Main Street apartment is its “proximity to everything I might have needed as a kid and beyond. – family, friends, community and access to commuters “.


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