Merchants along one of the borough’s busiest and longest commercial strips are moving ahead with plans to create a business improvement district.
Liberty Avenue business owners have proposed a BID for the shopping district stretching from the Van Wyck Expressway in Richmond Hill to Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park — a distance of about 40 blocks. That would make it one of the city’s longest.
Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Corp., said the plan to establish the BID began last year.
“What we have done is look in terms of the needs of the community,” he said. “We have launched the needs-assessment survey and created a database of merchants.”
Mahadeo said a steering committee has been formed to identify the boundaries of the BID, conduct outreach and inform business owners of what it would do. The city Department of Small Business Services has named a team to assist in the BID’s creation. Business owners gathered for a networking gala last Friday at Liberty Palace at 130-11 Liberty Ave. to discuss the proposal. The next step will be holding public meetings on the proposal.
The plan is supported by state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica) and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), whose staff has assisted with its creation. The Queens Economic Development Corp. also backs the BID.
In the meantime, Mahadeo said business owners have lobbied the city for more services on Liberty Avenue, including increasing garbage collection from two days a week to three and adding more receptacles; planting more trees and cleaning up graffiti.
Retail shops, markets and restaurants line nearly the entire length of Liberty Avenue from the Van Wyck to 104th Street. The more bustling eastern end of Liberty Avenue is often seen as the main commercial hub of South Richmond Hill.
West of 104th Street to Cross Bay Boulevard, there are a few private homes, a playground and two lots, one used by the 106th Precinct to store impounded cars; the other, at 103rd Street, is vacant and was once used by a moving company to park its trucks, but a sign on the fence says it is to be developed into a commercial space.
The entire strip between the Van Wyck Expressway and the Brooklyn border was rezoned last December. Ulrich said part of the rezoning’s goal was to allow for more commercial development along Liberty Avenue, especially along the section west of 104th Street.
In the last two decades, several new stores have opened on the western end of the proposed BID, including several franchises like CVS, IHOP, Duane Reade and Aaron’s as well as at least a dozen small mom-and-pop stores.
Since the 1970s, more than 40 BIDs have been created citywide. If the Liberty Avenue BID is created, it will be only the second one in South Queens after the Woodhaven BID, which covers Jamaica Avenue between 100th Street and Dexter Court.
Other BIDs in the borough include Bayside Village, which covers Bell Boulevard, the 82nd Street Partnership in Jackson Heights, the Sutphin Boulevard BID in Jamaica and Ridgewood’s Myrtle Avenue BID.