Today’s news:

Fifth Ave. merchants’ ‘fantastic’ forecast

There’s plenty of good news for merchants along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge.

With only 11 empty stores out of approximately 340, the strip has a vacancy rate of under four percent, said James Clark, the president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, reporting during the BID’s annual meeting.

“That’s absolutely fantastic,” Clark stressed, speaking to the group gathered at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th Street. “The merchants see the BID as something very positive for Bay Ridge. They know the stakeholders are putting up money to make the avenue better.”

In addition, Clark said, from last May through this May, a total of 29 new businesses opened on the strip.

The BID has been busy making improvements along the avenue, said Basil Capetanakis, the BID’s vice president. Capetanakis said the BID had invested in new trash receptacles that are designed so “things don’t spill out. They look a little better, are a little more decorative,” Capetanakis told the group.

In addition, said Capetanakis, the BID had put 12 planters on the avenue, four at Bay Ridge Parkway, four at Ovington Avenue and four at 83rd−84th Streets, with the goal of adding them eventually at every intersection within the BID area. The local flower shops are maintaining the planters, Capetanakis added.

The cleaning crew hired by the BID has been doing a top−notch job, Capetanakis also said. “You walk down any other street in Bay Ridge and you come to Fifth Avenue, and you see a tremendous difference,” he told his listeners.

“We are trying to do the best for the avenue,” Capetanakis added.

The recent Fifth Avenue Festival was extremely successful, said Chip Cafiero, its organizer. “The festival was one of the best we’ve had,” he told the group, adding, “We are looking forward to making it even better next year.”

Overall, said Michael Melamed, of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, the BID has, “Done a wonderful job. You’ve done everything you were supposed to do. When you became operational, you truly made life easier.”

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