In the 60’s, Hollis Avenue was a thriving, vibrant, energetic strip with two supermarkets, (Dan’s Supreme and Little Giant), a deli, a movie theatre, a shoe maker, a five and dime store, a florist, and a variety of enterprises. Slowly businesses began to close up or move away and the Avenue started to deteriorate. In 1979, Gladys Warren and HLDC submitted a proposal to the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development requesting a commercial revitalization program for Hollis Avenue. The program would give the community a supermarket, a drug store and a variety of shops to service its’ needs. The proposal also included a restoration program to preserve the Tudor-style buildings along with security and crime prevention. The proposal was approved!
Hollis Local Development Corporation’s board members are residents and volunteers who worked and are working to improve the quality of Hollis Avenue and the community. HLDC created Hollis Beautification headed by Ethel Gaines, which performed many beautification projects along the Avenue. HLDC did cleanups, put flower containers in front of stores and performed Mother’s Day flower planting. Each Spring the blossoming trees along Hollis Avenue also illustrate the results of our efforts. HLDC also named a neighborhood Triangle on Hollis Avenue in honor of our founder, Gladys Warren. We planted a small tree which is now very large and the Gladys’ Green Crew of Hollis has recently planted flowers and shrubbery in the park. HLDC also honored Gladys Warren with a commemorative marker at the Hollis Mall on Francis Lewis Boulevard and Hollis Avenue. In 1983, HLDC succeeded in bringing Met Supermarket to an abandoned storefront (currently occupied by Fine Fare). The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by then Mayor Edward I. Koch. After receiving a grant from New York State, HLDC created an all volunteer Hollis Civilian Patrol. HLDC sponsored a Hollis Talent Show and Hollis Day street fairs on Hollis Avenue with Run DMC performing in IS 192 Park, and WBLS broadcasting live from the park. HLDC’s community newsletters were published to update residents about upcoming civic events along with articles of interest on education and health.
In 1990 HLDC was successful in the creation of the Hollis Center Mall, located at Hollis Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard. It was one of the first private-commercial partnerships in New York City. After negotiating for nearly ten years with Jamaica Hospital, HLDC realized its goal when the hospital erected a new building containing a satellite clinic on Hollis Avenue. HLDC worked along with other civic groups in a successful effort to regulate the illegal vans which picked up riders at will who were waiting at Hollis Avenue bus stops.
For the last six years, HLDC hosted the Bruce L. Brown Awards Scholarship Brunch, in memoriam of Mr. Brown, the former president of HLDC. Scholarships were awarded to qualified high school senior and college students from the community. For the past five years HLDC members have decorated the Hollis Center Mall’s Christmas Tree, hosting its tree lighting ceremony which included caroling, a Kwanzaa ceremony, and gifts for the community children in attendance.
The Hollis Local Development Corp. sponsored classes by master drummer Winard Harper and his group, Jeli Posse, to approximately sixty students at the Renaissance Middle School – IS 192.
The purpose of HLDC remains the same – to stimulate economic growth in the Hollis community and to bring the needed services into the neighborhood which will improve the quality of life for our youth, senior citizens and other residents. As HLDC continues to work toward the mission, we will build a stronger and better Hollis Avenue and community to live, work and play.