After 75 years on Delaware Avenue, Robert Verstandig isn't calling it quits. He's going bigger and greener and hopes to have all 18 of his Selkirk greenhouses using renewable resources and making their own energy in the years ahead.
Verstandig said he hopes to eventually expand his Selkirk operation, which currently sells flowering plants wholesale.
Although he is moving his business from Delmar, pending the town of Bethlehem's approval of Keystone Builders plans to build high-end condominiums on the flower shop's property, he said he and his flowers will remain a part of the community that has embraced his family.
We'll definitely be closing (pending the sale to Keystone) on Delaware Avenue, but we will remain in business, selling flowers and plants into the future, Verstandig said. "We want to continue because the community has been so supportive and generous over the years. We've enjoyed our relationships on Delaware Avenue and have made many friends.
"We're not giving up," Verstandig concluded. "We're not going out of business."
Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce President Marty DeLaney said the closing of Verstandig's shop on Delaware Avenue would not go unnoticed.
"Bob Verstandig and the Verstandig family are the epitome of a longtime Bethlehem family with a strong work ethic and belief in service to their customers," said DeLaney. "Closing this landmark business is a big loss for the community."
Verstandig still holds onto the deed, but said he is planning to sell the property to Steve Bolduc's Keystone Builders once Bolduc gets approval from the town. During the Tuesday, Feb. 5, planning board meeting Bolduc proposed to turn the five-acre lot into nine buildings containing 40 condominiums.
"We were fortunate enough to have our local builder, Steve Bolduc, interested in the property. We think he's developed a really fine proposal, and it will be an asset to the town," Verstandig said. "We haven't had a closing yet. We're allowing him to get approval from the town. We might have as much as six months to make all of the moving arrangements."