Queens BID Fights Strong Resistance

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Queens BID

(Photo by Fausto Pinto)

The plan to form a Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District, has hit a snag after a group of local business owners and residents have voiced opposition to the plan, but organizers of the BID say they will take as much time is needed to drum up local support and form the BID.

On September 8th, the group, known as The Roosevelt Community Alliance, held a protest in Corona Plaza while chanting “No on BID,” before marching to local Councilwoman’s Julissa Ferreras office in protest of the plan.

Ferrara had introduced the BID earlier this year as part of her seven-point plan called “The New Deal for Roosevelt Avenue,” to help improve the area, which has suffered from a host of problems such as excess garbage, graffiti and other quality of life issues.

Already the voices opposing the BID have been felt and a community vote to gauge support of the BID as been pushed back from August to October, possibly November. Low turnout at community outreach events has also been a factor according to both sides.

The proposed district, which was to be the longest in the City, was scaled back in size and scope from 114th street to 104th street and from an original purposed annual budget of $1.1 million dollars down to $860,000.

Seth Taylor of the 82nd Street Partnership, attributed the scale back to the characteristic of the now excluded corridor, saying it contained less foot traffic and was more dense. He added the voices raising concern was also a factor.

Taylor said that he currently has support from over 100 businesses and that the scope of the area and misconception of BID’s has led to delays.

Despite the setbacks Taylor said he looking forward to providing more outreach and moving the formation of the BID forward.

“Whether it takes 3 months great,” said Taylor. “If it takes 6 months, great.”

The proposal for the Jackson Heights-Corona BID was announced earlier this year in conjunction with the 82nd Street Partnership, a current BID in the area that encompasses approximately two blocks along 82nd Street. Currently New York City has 67 BID’s throughout the five boroughs including the 82nd street partnership.

Those opposed to the BID contend that it will increase rents for existing businesses, many who are small and immigrant owned, forcing them out and paving the way for retail shops.

“A BID is an association of property owners that want to raise the property value of owners and bring in higher end retail stores,” said Marty Kirchner, an organizer with The Roosevelt Avenue Community Alliance, a group that was formed in opposition of the BID.

Kirchner contends that small business owners should not have to pay for services that the City should already be providing such as garbage pickup and more police patrol. He also points to the Fulton Street Mall where a number of Caribbean owned businesses have been replaced with larger retail stores since the formation of a BID there.

Taylor emphasized that the services provided by a BID are additional to those provided by the City, such as employing sidewalk sweepers and pressure washing sidewalks.

He also notes that with the new assessment a majority of property owners will pay $75 dollars a month. $2.50 a day passed on to a commercial tenant.

A small addition, he says, for an investment to form a BID that will better the area.

Before the BID can move to the legislative process, it must show a significant amount of support in the area.

“This is a big district with 1000 stakeholders which requires a lot of outreach,” said
Taylor. “We will put a vote when the stakeholders are informed.”

Author: Fausto Pinto

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