Community Engagement Begins for 86th Street Area BID Formation

Councilmember Ben Kallos. Image credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council

Councilmember Ben Kallos. Image credit: William Alatriste/NYC Council

The proposed Business Improvement District would be the 73rd BID established in New York City.  On November 6, 2015, City Council member Ben Kallos issued a press release regarding the launch of a push to create a Business Improvement District on East 86th Street in Manhattan.  The press release notes that a “District Needs Survey” was mailed out to community businesses, residents, and property owners last week.

The formation of the 86th Street Area BID seeks to address community concerns over the deteriorating quality of life experienced at the “neighborhood’s central commerce corridor,” which is a transportation hub subject to a high volume of foot traffic from patrons of the M86 Select Bus Service line and the four, five, and six subway trains.  The BID has already received support from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Members Rebecca Seawright and Dan Quart, and local property owners and organizations.

BIDs are non-profit partnerships between the public and private sector, authorized by State legislation in 1976, which address specific community needs within a defined locale by providing supplemental programs and services to those already provided by the City.  Residential and commercial property owners fund the development and maintenance of the BID services and programs that benefit them individually by paying an annual property assessment akin to an additional property tax.  The broad range of services provided by BIDs include additional maintenance of streets, sidewalks, and parks, fundraising programs for community services, and public improvements, such as upgraded streetlights, garbage receptacles, and street signs.

“This community has faced a long-standing problem with conditions on and around 86th Street. This corridor’s needs are too great for band-aids or one-off fixes. A BID will provide the supplementary support this neighborhood needs and is long overdue,” said Council member Kallos.

The 86th Street Area BID is presently in the planning phase, which is the first tier of the three-tiered BID-creation process, and will next move onto the outreach phase.  The BID will conclude its creation process after succeeding through the legislative authorization phase, which involves public review and approval from the community boards, borough boards, City Planning Commission, and City Council.

Local community members affected by the 86th Street Area BID are encouraged to respond to the District Needs Survey by November 20, 2015.  More information on the 86th Street Area BID and the BID survey can be found here.  The Department of Small Business Services has provided information on BIDs in general and the process of forming and managing BIDs here.

By:  Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein (Jessica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2015)

2 thoughts on “Community Engagement Begins for 86th Street Area BID Formation

  1. When the SoHo BID was proposed, it was noticed that there was tremendous inequity between how owners of Co-op units and owners of Condo units were to be treated. Buildings with equal numbers of units (say, 60) would, if a condo, get 60 votes as Owners while buildings organized as cooperatives would get a single Owner vote and 60 “Rental” votes. Assessments varied accordingly as well…with each condo owner responsible only for their own “residential” unit ($1 annually) while Cooperatives were responsible for the whole shebang (complicated formula, plus the $1 residential per proprietary lesee.) Eventually, it was worked out…but took a long time…and its still not entirely equitable. I believe there are a good number of cooperatives in the 86th St. area, and think it might be a good idea to look closely at how coops and condos are treated under the proposal.

  2. With all due respect, the BID process has historically been an adventure in unintended consequences, adept, if anything, in taking credit for improvements that coincided with economic upturns and increased land value from increased development that did not necessarily ‘improve’ and certainly did not ‘improve’ the original commercial district that was to be the purported recipient of the improvement.

    In a nutshell: there has been a historic “disconnect” between residential development and commercial. Real estate development has looked to commercial real estate to fill the hole in its rent stream and the hole in its pocket, but not necessarily provide the services and amenities that make neighborhoods thrive. A perfect example of this can be found in Manhattan’s residential community in and around the Financial District.

    The underground mall potential in Chase Plaza and the missed opportunity to reengage East – West pedestrian traffic flow and use of the Halal vendor traffic wall along William Street is a perfect example.

    An off-grid non-fossil fuel light delivery system – nighttime restricted truck delivery – a Whole Foods or Fairways underground in Chase Plaza with a public year round atrium that enjoyed the historic Noguchi Fountain could have transformed this neighborhood. But, the stubborn forces of commercial greed would never have it even though the long-term payout would have been transformative.

    East 86th Street is another apt example. Skyrocketing demand for residential housing stock in that area combined with aging commercial retail that has never well-served that community, is a perfect opportunity for truly creative planning that brings in quality produce and food as well as more public plaza off-set amenities for its bipolar population of new families and aging historic demographic segment, could have mitigated its harsh corridor of congestion with tributaries and eddies instead of gates and walls only interrupted by glass walls and doors to uninspired retail. Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue magnify rather than diminish the injurious experience of an uninspired and insulting urban space.

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