Flushing BID receives CPC approval to double in size. On August 28, 2019, the City Planning unanimously approved the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District’s (“BID”) application. The application by Small Business Services (“SBS”) and officials from the Flushing BID proposed a geographic expansion that is more reflective of the downtown Flushing community and responsive to the community’s growing needs.
The BID currently includes properties located primarily along Main Street. The expansion would increase the service area to include properties along Main Street between Northern Boulevard and Franklin Avenue, and from College Point Boulevard to the west to Union Street to the east.
According to a Commercial District Needs Assessment (“CDNA”), funded by a Neighborhood 360 Grant, SBS was able to determine that an expansion of the BID district would provide services to nearly 1,000 business currently outside the BID’s boundaries but nonetheless part of the downtown Flushing community. This would essentially double the amount of businesses serviced by the BID. The added businesses include restaurants, food courts, supermarkets, jewelers, pharmacies and a variety of convenience and specialty stores.
The BID predominantly serves the low-to moderate-income population in central Flushing and Northern Queens. Roughly 1,550 units in the expansion area are residential and 60 percent are owner occupied.
If ultimately approved, the downtown Flushing expansion would not only include a substantial geographic expansion but a substantial increase in the BID’s budget. Dian Yu, Executive Director of the Flushing BID, purports that the expansion includes 2,073 tax lots and a proposed budget of $1 million.
At the public hearing on July 31, 2019, Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin took note of the $620,000 budget increase. The current budget is $380,000 and has not increased since the BID establishment in 2003. The application team credited the increase to the geographic expansion and the multitude of businesses encompassed by the expansion.
Commissioner Larisa Ortiz took special note that a significant portion of the BID expansion’s budget is dedicated to sanitation (56.6%). In response, Michael Blaise Backer of SBS made assurances that district’s City sanitation services would not be decreased or replaced. Rather, the additional money allocated to sanitation will supplement the City’s service. The expansion team made it clear that the sizable portion of the budget allocated to sanitation, was in direct response to the community’s wishes.
In approving the application, the Commission is concerned that the budget might be too tight. The Commission is hopeful that SBS and the Bid board will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the BID as Downtown Flushing continues to grow. If necessary, the Commission is open to the idea of further expansion, an increase of services or raising the assessment if the BID struggles from lack of funds.
At the public hearing, Commissioner David J. Burney inquired about the composition of the BID’s Board of Directors if granted expansion. Specifically, he wanted to know if there would be additional board seats. SBS made no assurances at that time, but did promise to work with the BID to ensure the Board is representative of the community at large.
In deciding whether to bring this application, SBS cited substantial documented support amongst residents and businesses in the community. More than half of the total assessed value signed in favor of the expansion. The BID expansion is supported by Queens Community Board 7 and City Council member Peter Koo. This application will now go to City Council for a final vote.
By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)