July 9, 2015 By Michael Florio
The 82nd Street Partnership aims to complete the expansion of its controversial Business Improvement District (BID) by next summer.
The partnership currently operates the BID on 82nd Street, from 37th Ave to Baxter Ave, which covers a two-block radius. The organization, however, plans to expand it along Roosevelt Ave, from 81st to 104th Streets, according to Leslie Ramos, Executive Director of the organization.
The expansion would bring traditional BID services to the new territory, such as dedicated workers to clean the sidewalks as well as marketing, events and streetscaping.
The organization aims to submit its expansion plan to New York City’s Small Business Services in the next few weeks. If it is green lighted by the agency, the new plan will go to City Planning and the formal process to expand the BID will begin.
Ramos is hopeful that the formal process will being in September.
Should the plan go to City Planning, a public hearing will be held by both community boards 3 and 4, with both boards providing City Planning with non-binding recommendations. The borough president will also weigh in.
The plan would then be discussed at a public hearing held by City Planning, which makes a binding recommendation.
The plan then has to be passed by City Council and then signed by the Mayor
The process could take anywhere from nine months to a year.
“We hope to have the BID extension in place by next summer,” Ramos said.
In order to go forward with this package, the partnership needs the majority (51 percent) of property owners within the proposed extension area to vote in favor of it.
While the property owners are the ones who vote, many of the business owners have been encouraged to provide their feedback on BID expansion.
The BID receives funding through assessments, or a fee that is charged to property owners. However, many leases have a clause that allows property owners to pass this assessment onto their tenants, which essentially increases their rent.
The amount of the assessment is determined by each BID during the formation process, and is based on property size and value.
Ramos said that several small businesses were opposed the BID thinking it would cost them thousands per month. However, she said, it could be as little as $200 per year.
“There was a lot of misinformation so many people were opposed to the BID,” Ramos said.
She said that the business owners are now getting a better understanding of the BID and many are now for it.
Ramos said that many small businesses have been fearful that the big corporations will move into the neighborhood, which will drive them out.
However, Ramos said there are few spaces in the district where big stores could move in. She said that most of the properties are small.
She said that there are so many landlords in the district that it would be unlikely that a big-box store could take over a number of smaller stores to create a big space.
Street vendors are concerned that the BID might push them out like BIDs have done so in other neighborhoods. Nevertheless, Ramos said it would not make sense to do so in Jackson Heights/Corona since they are part of the fabric of the neighborhood.
“Jackson Heights is known for its street food vendors,” she said. “They [vendors] are one of the main attractions to the neighborhood and an asset to the community.”