EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 13, 2007

Back in Business; Methuen Jackson Street neighborhood thrives again

METHUEN - Findeisen's Ice Cream owner Tony Forzese has operated at 24 Jackson St. for 47 years for a simple reason: He loves the neighborhood.

He recalls when families with small children in tow flocked to his ice-cream stand - one of a handful of mom and pop stores in the area - and shopped at Barcelos Market for Italian deli meats and Portuguese bread and Zayre department store, before both closed about a decade or more ago.

Today, people from all over are returning to Jackson Street, not just for ice cream, but to fill prescriptions, buy a cup of coffee and a sandwich and to drop off their dry cleaning and shoes for repair.

What was once a neighborhood that became plagued by drugs, car thefts and prostitution, has erupted into a thriving business district once again, business owners and residents said.

"It's good for the neighborhood," Forzese said. "The new businesses attract customers for everybody else. People come have lunch and still come back for ice cream."

Jackson Street, where it meets Swan Street near the Lawrence line, today is Methuen's newest business district. It boasts a mix of national chains (Walgreens and CVS), locally owned franchises (Subway and Dunkin' Donuts), family-owned businesses (China Tea House and Korbani's Bakery), and of course, Findeisen's, which has operated in the same location for 74 years, the last 47 by Forzese.

Tucked between rows of triple-deckers on the Lawrence end and some of Methuen's most beautiful historic homes, the stretch of Jackson Street is a close-knit neighborhood, with a thriving business group and a gaggle of everyday walkers.

"It's a good example of one of the villages of Methuen," said Karen Sawyer, the city's economic and community development director. "We want to promote it and help set up that village. For people who enjoy Methuen's unique character, part of it is having places to go like Jackson Street."

Jackson Street is one of several gateways into Methuen.

For 30 years, Barcelos Market was the cornerstone of the neighborhood. It was part of a chain of grocery stores owned by the Barcelos family.

Residents walked to the store daily for staples, such as milk and bread. Others were attracted by its ethnic foods, which included Italian, Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish items.

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