A debate has begun on Roosevelt Avenue over whether expanding the business improvement district is in the best interest for the neighborhood.
On Sunday several people affiliated with businesses opposed to the proposal marched from the Corona Pedestrian Plaza to the office of Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Corona), where they dropped off a letter asking that the Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District be denied.
Ferreras supports the plan.
“Some of the most common and consistent issues my constituents have discussed with me are the problems of crime, sanitation, poor lighting and safety along Roosevelt Avenue,” Ferreras said. “I remain confident that a business improvement district will be able to further provide essential resources to our small business owners and property owners.”
Ralliers outside her office disagree. They held signs saying “Jackson Heights and Corona say no to gentrification,” “BID raises property taxes” and “Vote no on BID.”
“I have been running my business for 11 years,” said Freddy Castiblanco, owner of Terraza 7, a bar and live music venue in Jackson Heights that sits in a building included in the proposed BID, “and today, along with other small business owners, we are leading a campaign against raising rents along Roosevelt Avenue.”
The BID, which would run up Roosevelt Avenue from 82nd to 114th streets and a few blocks of Junction Boulevard and two blocks of 82nd Street, would have an annual budget of $1.1 million with each property required to pay, on average, about $2,000 per year. The fee is not yet set in stone.
In return for the fees the businesses would see increased sanitation services, beautification including lighting to deter crime and advertising. Those rallying said the fee would put small businesses that are mostly immigrant-run at a disadvantage.
Seth Taylor, the executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, which administers the two-block BID on 82nd Street on either side of the avenue, established since 1990, said business owners participating in the expansion would see a return on their investment. By creating safer and cleaner streets Taylor said more customers would patronize the avenue.
“People in the community leave to do shopping because of problems on Roosevelt Avenue,” Taylor said. “This would be an investment to fix that and would ultimately improve business and increase sales.”
He cited other BIDS in immigrant communities such at the 82nd Street BID, Fordham Road in the Bronx and one in Flushing.
“In the long run it will be worth it,” said Juan Carlos Segarra owner of El Pequeno Coffee Shop at 86th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
The 82nd Street Partnership, which would run the expanded BID if voted into effect, will hold more outreach meetings. Representatives will go to door to door and send out fliers to all affected individuals.
More information can also be found at jhcoronabid.org.
Ballots will be sent out in October. If the proposal has positive support an application will be sent to the Department of Small Business Services. After the SBS it goes to the City Council for a vote with a hope for implementation in early 2014.