The sound of honking car horns is typically not a welcomed noise. It’s a harbinger of traffic and congestion.
But in Howard Beach a busy Cross Bay Boulevard is a thriving Cross Bay Boulevard, even as the commercial strip struggles in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Nearly all of the businesses along the boulevard are open. Some, such as Vincent’s Clam Bar, only recently. A year ago, almost every business on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach suffered some damage in the storm surge.
For several weeks, the entire boulevard was shut down with just a few businesses opening. Gradually through the winter, the strip came to life.
“It’s almost like Sandy never happened,” said shopper Joann Bosco as she left lunch at Cross Bay Diner, the popular boulevard eatery right on Shellbank Basin that reopened in May — six and a half months after the storm. Though the main dining floor did not flood, the basement did and the diner underwent a major renovation.
For an outside observer that may be true, but the amount of work that was put into most of the boulevard’s businesses range from cosmetic fixes to, in cases like the diner, complete renovations.
Fazio Dance Center’s location at 164-48 Cross Bay Blvd. is close to the hardest hit part of the boulevard, near the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge. The studio’s owner, Julie Fazio, told the Queens Chroncle in August the center lost everything in the storm, but it reopened for business on Dec. 1 with little more than music and a floor.
“That was a big challenge,” Fazio explained. “We got back on our feet. Everyone had to step it up.”
A few doors down from Fazio, New York Families for Autistic Children was due to open its new headquarters last November, then came Sandy. The new building flooded badly and the official opening was postponed until April.
The CVS store under Gold’s Gym at Cross Bay Boulevard and 157th Avenue was decimated in the storm and had to be completely gutted.
The 7-Eleven store still has not reopened its store on Cross Bay and Duane Reade pulled out of its property at 163-20 Cross Bay Blvd. Key Food is slated to open a store at the site. A former flooring outlet at the corner of 165th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard remains vacant.
But many Howard Beach staples, like Sapienza’s Deli and Cross Bay Travel, were able to get back to business fairly quickly — within a month or two.
Sapienza’s, located at 164-26 Cross Bay Blvd., lost all of its kitchen equipment while the Cross Bay Travel office at 158-20A Cross Bay Blvd. was damaged and needed new floors. Both businesses reopened once power was restored to the neighborhood, several weeks after the hurricane.