Suffern's revitalization off and running this spring
Rows of rickety wooden benches at the Suffern Off-Track Betting site soon will be replaced by shelves filled with kitchen and hardware accessories as the village's revitalization project sees the start of the first multimillion-dollar projects in the spring.
The owner of Ace Rainbow, the anchor retailer along Orange Avenue, hopes Suffern residents, as well as those in nearby New Jersey towns, will flock to the 30,000-square-foot store by back-to-school time in the summer.
"We're extremely excited to come to this town, to this little village," Ace Rainbow owner John Dizzia said.
Dizzia's two sons -- John, 31, and Daniel, 26 -- already have helped run the family's 31-year-old shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side. They described the store as a combination of a Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Ace Hardware -- but will add a new venture: home and garden.
"In Manhattan, people don't have backyards," the elder Dizzia said, adding that the new location will bring with it 30 local jobs. "But here, people will use it."
Suffern Mayor Dagan LaCorte and Assemb. Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) unveiled plans for several new projects Wednesday morning outside the OTB, which will be shutting its doors at the end of March after a 23-year run.
Four dozen condominiums, at a cost of $5 million, will be built by TJG Realty at the former site of Conserv Construction, which burned to the ground in 2009. DB Masonry will spend $4 million to build 21 townhomes on Route 202 near Memorial Drive, and the Rockland County Jewish Home for the Aged will focus on adding 80 senior housing units at the Esther Gitlow Towers as well as a two-level parking garage, costing $17 million. An additional $3 million will go toward renovating an existing residential building there.
"We've been working on the downtown revitalization for a number of years. For the first time in a long time, we're getting a store, right here on the border of New York," LaCorte said of Ace Rainbow.
Tax incentives weren't given to any developers, LaCorte said, adding that it was a lot of "hustle" that brought in businesses.
"The only way you can continue to have economic development is to attract substantial, wonderful businesses to our community," Jaffee said.
The mayor also was able to secure about $250,000 this year for its facade program, which hopes to polish 18 store fronts this spring. Businesses like Colonial Florist, Matteo Communication, Finder's Keepers and Priya Indian Restaurant are all on the list for a face-lift.
"We need to bring the dollars in," LaCorte said about becoming a competitive forerunner in the Hudson Valley. "People often leave Rockland and Suffern to go over to New Jersey. This store will bring people across the border the other way. It's a partnership that will make Suffern the anchor of western Ramapo and western Rockland commerce."
John Paul Moletta, president of the Suffern Chamber of Commerce, said the new projects will create the type of "good energy" that will drive existing businesses.
"There's a conscious effort and there has been for quite awhile," Moletta said. "We have a lot of landlords that have been here a long time, and they get comfortable and sometimes complacent, and I think this is the kind of fresh blood that we need down here."