Merchants mull new BID - Alliance would effect Newkirk Plaza and beyond

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Merchants in one section of Flatbush are on the cusp of a sea change.

A Business Improvement District (BID) has been proposed for Newkirk Plaza and stretches of Newkirk and Foster Avenues, the former between Argyle Road and East 17th Street, and the latter along the north side of the street between Coney Island Avenue and East 18th Street.

If it is approved by the property owners in the area, to whom ballots were sent out in June, the BID could begin a transformation of the neighborhood, contended Mannix Gordon, director of community development for the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC), which is providing technical support to the merchants as they strive to create the BID.

“It’s a brilliant opportunity for us to be able to reap the rewards of taxing ourselves into a more vibrant commercial area,” Gordon told this paper. “It’s hard sell anytime you tell people you are going to add taxes. But, it’s going to be beneficial for the community at large. People should support it.”

Under a BID, in exchange for annual assessments based on street frontage (the average in the Newkirk BID area has been calculated on $2,302.49), property owners and merchants receive a wide range of supplementary services, ranging from street cleaning and snow removal, to graffiti removal, to holiday lights, to security, to marketing efforts on behalf of the shopping area. The total budget proposed for the Newkirk area BID, $175,000 annually, covers these expenses and more.

A key, Gordon stressed, is that the services brought in by the BID are added to what the city already provides, one reason why the Bloomberg administration has been promoting them, he said, “as the way of the future.”

The amount of money expended pays big dividends, said Gordon. For one thing, he said, having a BID would aid in, “Creating a destination in the Newkirk area.

“Businesses can attract new customers and expand their client base,” he explained. ‘The property owners will hopefully see their property values increase. They can attract quality tenants and have an increased retention rate of existing tenants. The neighborhood as a whole would benefit from the cleaner streets and the variety of businesses.”

Leon Kogut, the owner of Leon’s Barber Shop at 7 Newkirk Plaza, and the president of the Newkirk Plaza Merchants Association, agreed.

‘I believe it would be a very good thing for the merchants, and for the landlords also,” he told this paper. “It will be a more attractive place and a safer place, and that will bring more people here to walk around, which is good for the neighborho­od.”

There are 105 properties within the BID’s catchment area, of which 15 are residential and six are tax-exempt. Fifty percent of the property owners must support the BID for it to move forward.

Change is already coming to Newkirk Plaza. A subway station renovation is in the near future, as is the completion of the rehabilitation of the plaza area.

The effort to form a BID in the Newkirk area began about two years ago. There are currently 60 BIDS in New York City, including three within Flatbush – the Flatbush-Nostrand Junction BID, the Flatbush Avenue BID and the Church Avenue BID. The newest BID is the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID, which was signed into law last month.

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