Staten Island newcomers have probably never felt the crisp of Royal Crown bread or sampled the tranquility of an AF Bennett massage. Odds are most borough newbies have never sipped a frozen peanut butter hot chocolate from Project Brunch or devoured the perfectly thin crust of a Lee’s Tavern white clam slice either. So with that unfortunate lack of knowledge in mind, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation decided to map out a good portion of the borough’s businesses and most popular points of interest, introducing Staten Islanders, both new and old, to an array of local boutiques, professional services and eateries.
“As the borough’s leading organization in neighborhood development, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation provides services to almost 1,000 businesses,” noted Niles French, project manager and New Dorp BID district director for the SIEDC. “As the Island experiences unprecedented growth, even native Islanders are constantly discovering new restaurants, fashion boutiques and professional services. With funding from the Richmond County Savings Foundation, the SIEDC and Hatch Engineers have created three neighborhood maps with comprehensive business lists and points of interest. The towns of New Dorp, Richmond Road and Richmond Valley are all featured.”
Referring to New Dorp as Staten Island’s’ version of the classic American “Main Street,” Richmond Road as a bustling shopping corridor and Richmond Valley as home to various recreational activities, the maps feature dozens of area services, each broken down into categories like Food and Drink, Shops and Markets and Recreation and Wellness.
“Each town here is so unique,” French said. “The idea behind this project was to showcase that uniqueness.”
The SIEDC worked with an urban planning firm to produce the maps and the six-month development process included geographic studies, regular field trips to the map sites and business visits to develop the correct narrative. Currently located at most borough train stations, the SIEDC has plans to staff a kiosk at the ferry where they will be handed out this fall. Online, live docs will be updated every six to seven months to keep the content current.
“We didn’t want them to hang around; we want people to explore with them,” French said. “We have spoken with a number of walking tour guides on Staten Island and are currently working with senior groups who employ buses to take their members on weekly shopping trips along New Dorp Lane.”
The maps also highlight a little bit of the borough’s history, identifying sites like the Turkish Cultural Center and the Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House in Historic Richmond Town.
“A lot of Islanders I’ve been talking to weren’t aware of so many of these businesses and points of interest,” French concluded. “I’m a native Staten Islander myself and I learned a lot from this project. But that is exactly what we set out to do.”