13th Avenue BID one step closer to fruition

September 16, 2013 Helen Klein
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The effort to start a Business Improvement District (BID) along 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights is moving forward, with organizers reporting that they are hoping to have the BID in place by spring, 2014.

“In a nutshell, we’re about 80 percent there,” noted Dominick Sarta, the co-president of the strip’s merchant association and the co-chair of the BID’s steering committee, explaining that BID supporters are currently picking up ballots from commercial and residential tenants, property owners and business owners within the prospective BID area, 64th to 86th Street – “anyone directly affected by the BID.”

BIDs, which are overseen by the city, must have support from a majority of property owners and business owners because, by approving a BID, they are agreeing to assess themselves an annual fee that goes to a wide variety of supplemental services including additional sanitation above and beyond what the city provides, security, marketing and beautification.

It’s these services that make BIDs appealing both to the business community and nearby residents. A BID along 13th Avenue would provide sanitation services eight hours a day, five or six days a week, according to Sarta, a direct response to sidewalk litter which, said merchants association Co-President and BID steering committee Co-Chair Tatiana Nicoli, is “one of the biggest issues” along the thoroughfare.

BID-provided security, by car, would be another asset. “The whole idea is that, if someone is thinking about doing something, and they see a little flashing light two blocks away, they are going to think twice,” said Nicoli.

Adding trees and other plantings would be a goal of the BID, Nicoli noted, stressing that the visible improvements would make the area more appealing, as would increased ability to create special events such as street festivals or Third Avenue’s Summer Stroll.

“We feel not enough people are shopping on the avenue,” she explained. “We are hoping to bring them in.”

All of these improvements, BID supporters anticipate, will be mirrored by increased involvement on the part of the strip’s merchants. “We are hoping to spur more business by having more people on the avenue,” said Gene Cukierwar, the merchant group’s vice president and a member of the BID steering committee. “In the end, other BIDs have been successful in attracting more diverse businesses so residents can have a better shopping experience.”

At the same time, the BID backers said, the merchants group wants to retain 13th Avenue’s special flavor. “We’re unique because we are primarily mom and pop businesses,” Cukierwar said. “Many residents appreciate that.”

“And we want to keep what makes 13th avenue what it is,” Sarta added.

With a series of governmental hurdles to clear once the ballots are back, Sarta said that the steering committee hopes to “be in front of the City Council within the next two months.” Assuming the council votes by January, he said, “By the time spring rolls around, the BID would be in effect.”

A 13th Avenue BID would be the first in Dyker Heights; nearby, there are BIDs on Fifth Avenue in both Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, as well as on 86th Street in Bay Ridge. There are 23 BIDs in Brooklyn, and 67 citywide.

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