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Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week signed legislation designating 22 blocks along Fulton Street from Rockwell Place to Classon Avenue as the Fulton Street Business Improvement District (FSBID).
“The Fulton Street BID, the eighteenth established under our administration, and the second along Fulton Street, will provide maintenance and sanitation services, security services, marketing and promotion of local businesses, holiday lighting, economic development, beautification and landscaping,” Bloomberg said.
“The services provided to the community are essential to ensuring that small businesses, and the neighborhoods in which they operate are given every opportunity to succeed,” he added.
A BID is a formalized way for businesses in a commercial area to fund extra services in their community.
Every business and property owner in a determined area is assessed and each contributes a certain amount of money per year.
The money goes to the city, which holds it, and then reallocates it to the BID.
The BID, which is made up of the merchants and property owners, decides how to spend the money and create its own priorities.
Establishing a BID also opens the area up to possible capital improvement funding on the city’s part.
The FSBID proposal was spearheaded by the Pratt Area Community Council (PACC), which is also a likely candidate to administrate the services.
According to a PACC fact sheet, 93 percent of the property owners in the proposed BID support its creation.
Many of the property owners have a “pass-through” in their lease for these assessments, allowing the merchant to pay for the BID.
Non-profit property owners are not subject to these assessments and residential property owners pay only $1 a year for the BID.
The median annual BID assessment is $1,017.59, or $85 per month.
The estimated annual budget for the BID will be $300,000.
Of this money, $35,000 will go toward additional security, $95,000 will go toward sanitation and graffiti removal, $40,000 will go toward promotion and marketing, $25,000 will go for holiday lighting, $15,000 will go toward new initiatives, $50,000 will go for a BID manager and $11,000 will cover administrative costs.
One of the reasons listed on the fact sheet for forming the BID was to capitalize on the economic benefits of recent and future developments in bordering neighborhoods, such as MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn.
The BID, in part, also abuts the BAM cultural district, which is under the auspices of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP).
While City Council member Letitia James supports the FSBID, its designation also has many vocal opponents, particularly from merchants and property owners on the eastern portion of the BID, where Fulton Street has endured more than two years of roadwork that included the rerouting of busses and cars along the thoroughfare.
“The fight is still on,” said Schellie Hagan, a community activist who has been instrumental in organizing against the BID and brought in property owner votes against it to the city clerk’s office.
PACC Executive Director Deb Howard said the BID will provide targeted revenue into services to support local merchants and improve the shopping environment on Fulton Street.
“The merchants on the Clinton Hill side particularly have been hard hit by the street construction and economic downturn is affecting everyone, so when the BID board is formed we will encourage them to focus a major amount of the first year’s budget on a marketing effort to build awareness of businesses on Fulton Street,” she said.
Howard said new assessments have to be done and the FSBID should be up and running by June or July.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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