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Slope is up for the BID: Vote is on for new tax funding Seventh Avenue improvements

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Seventh Avenue merchants are picking up steam in a push to levy a new tax on landlords on the strip — but before they can start collecting dues they must win support from the property owners who will foot the bill.

Members of the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce want to form a Seventh Avenue Business Improvement District to help tidy up the commercial corridor and supplement existing city services such as trash pick-ups and street-sweeping, funded by an annual fee charged to building owners on a 22-block stretch of the avenue.

If more than half of landlords along Seventh Avenue between St. John’s Place and 16th Street agree to the tax — averaging between $700 and $900 for owners of commercial properties and just $1 for residential building landlords — the plan will advance to city council, where it will await a rubber stamp.

And once it becomes the law of the land, every property on the street must pay.

The fees would produce an estimated annual budget of $300,000 that the BID could spend to beautify Seventh Avenue with plantings or benches, promote shops through marketing, events, and festivals, increase safety by installing security cameras, and tidy the retail stretch with more trash pick-ups, according to a proposal by the merchants group.

Seventh Avenue certainly needs some help, according to BID backer and Chamber president Tammy Shaw.

“Seventh Avenue is not up to par with the other major commercial strips in our immediate area and it certainly does not reflect well on Park Slope as a historic community,” said Tammy Shaw, an owner of TB Shaw Realty Associates on the strip. “It’s not clean the way Fifth Avenue is.”

Ever since politicians didn’t renew a 2011 contract with a non-profit that hires homeless men to collect street trash, garbage has littered the stretch, merchants say.

Booming Fifth Avenue has had a BID since 2009 — and if that street is any indication, creating a similar tax will do wonders for Seventh Avenue, Shaw said.

“It has been good for Fifth Avenue and it will be good for us,” said Shaw.

Fifth Avenue is lined with boutiques and mom-and-pops, but Seventh Avenue has seen an influx of chains and national brands that don’t contribute cash to the Chamber’s $35,000 annual budget, which is supported by voluntary donations from 100 small businesses along the 350-storefront strip.

The establishment of a BID would force the national chains to pay up.

“With the corporate chain stores the money is going to shareholders and not back into the community in any way, so if the BID goes through they will have more of a say and be forced to contribute to the avenue,” said Mitch Szpicek, Chamber vice president and owner of the Little Things Toy Store.

“Mom-and-pop businesses return most of the money to the area they are in,” he said.

But small businesses might find themselves paying for the BID, if landlords choose to pass the fee along to their tenants in the form of rent hikes.

That doesn’t faze some merchants, who are looking at the big picture: a better business atmosphere.

“We are 100 percent for it,” said Ezra Goldstein, co-owner of neighborhood mainstay Community Bookstore, who said he has asked his landlord to revise his lease so that he will pay the new tax. “A BID could promote a richer mix of businesses and we could certainly use a richer mix on Seventh Avenue.”

Organizers delivered a “statement of support” two weeks ago to every property owner and merchant along Seventh Avenue that will serve as the ballot for the BID.

The first of several public informational meetings about the Seventh Avenue BID will be at Greenwood Baptist Church [461 Sixth St. near Seventh Avenue in Park Slope]. Feb. 28, 9:30–10:30 am.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sandra from President St says:
Hope the new BID can do something about traffic safety and speeding on 7th. 5th Ave has a bike lane and feels safer for pedestrians and cyclists than 7th. Something similar would really help the avenue!!!
Feb. 22, 2013, 11:52 am
Fred from Park Slope says:
I don't know if you're trying to put a negative spin on this, like it's some sort of "Damn New Tax" thing, or if your reporter is just woefully uninformed about the nature of BIDs, but the funding for a BID is NOT a tax.

Taxes go towards the municipality. This is an assessment that yes, is collected by the City but every cent goes to the BID for the services it is offering to supplement what the City does not offer. These can include extra cleaning, advertising, and security for the area, none of which are government functions.

It is not splitting hairs, and getting it this wrong is just ignorant, sloppy, and slanted.
Feb. 22, 2013, 1:13 pm
Jamie C from Park Slope says:
Really hope this goes through. 7th Ave litter has gotten really bad (while 5th Ave is generally pretty clean because of the BID).
Feb. 22, 2013, 3:34 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
BIDs may seem good at first, but in the long run they are a bad idea. There have been studies that they become more favorable to big businesses and corporations, who can actually afford the rents and taxes when local and small businesses cannot. For the record, I have walked down 7th Avenue in that area a number of times, and I don't see a lot of corporations there right now, but I feel that a bid could make a lot of what is there now be forced to leave just for not affording to stay there. Nobody is saying that the place is not a mess, but there are better solutions than a BID to solve those problems such as those already in the neighborhoods to step up rather than relying on others to do so. BTW, many other places in the city that have BIDs are now overrun by big businesses and corporations while many of the local and small businesses had moved out long ago thanks to those increases in rent. Usually, those sitting at the head of a BID are members of the said businesses, which is why they benefit from them the most.
Feb. 22, 2013, 4:51 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal... Please share these studies. Share them. Provide a link or a title/author.

Otherwise this comment is the same stupid, baseless crap that you spew nonstop. So, STOP.

"but there are better solutions than a BID to solve those problems such as those already in the neighborhoods to step up rather than relying on others to do so." WHAT!? Who is relying on others?! The BID provides a mechanism to.... uggh. Never mind. You're too stupid to understand.
Feb. 22, 2013, 5:07 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, you actually described yourself by saying that. The way I look at it, BIDs are just a way for those on the top part of the ladder making a mess, and then becoming a hero by cleaning up the very mess they made. In reality, that doesn't make them a hero, just doing a PR stunt. As for saying that chains and corporations don't give back to the city, then take away the TIFs and PILOTs they are allowed to have, and then they will paying their fair share. Since you asked for a link about why BIDs are bad, here is a link, and although it's about SoHo, the same can be applied to any other place.

http://sohonobid.wordpress.com/
Feb. 22, 2013, 7:21 pm
ty from pps says:
No, Tal... I didn't ask for why the proposed SoHo BID was a bad idea. No I did not. And that is NOT what you stated.

What you stated was, "BIDs may seem good at first, but in the long run they are a bad idea. THERE HAVE BEEN STUDIES that they become more favorable to big businesses and corporations, who can actually afford the rents and taxes when local and small businesses cannot."

THAT is what you stated. Support THAT statement with evidence, not why the commercial business community in SoHo thought that particular BID proposal was not a good fit for their particular needs.

Where are the references for these studies? Links to these studies (not a random Wordpress website for some activists) and/or titles and authors of these studies you mentioned. I would enjoy reading empirical evidence about the affects of BIDs on a communities businesses. I don't enjoy your spewing of BS from your bum.
Feb. 22, 2013, 7:30 pm
JAY from NYC says:
I guess we are talking about a different 5th and 7th ave than the ones I walk down in Brooklyn nearly every day. What I see on fifth ave is that its over run with crummy stores that sell men's suits for $35 dollars, dollar stores, and a rent a center for most of it, and then on one end a bunch of so-so restaurants that runs into Atlantic Mall and Barclays center, and which is dirtier and has a higher crime rate than 7th ave.
I don't see making 7th ave more like 5th ave as a good thing at all, in fact 5th ave should be more like 7th ave.
And Bigot Tal you have no idea what you are talking about, as usual.
Feb. 22, 2013, 8:20 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Jay, 5th Avenue used to be as you describe, 14 years ago. Some blocks further south retain that character, but that is passing away, too. The dollar stores and the rent-a-center, for example, remain between 14th Street and the Prospect Expressway, but from there to Flatbush it's quite upscale. Even O'Connor's cleaned itself up! 7th Avenue, on the other hand, doesn't have half the vibrancy it once did. As for restaurants, La Bagel Delight and Five Guys can't compete with Al Di La, Brooklyn Fishcamp, Belleville, or Miriam in my book. I hear Talde's good and Steinhof is decent, but 5th Avenue comes out far ahead for number, variety, and quality.
Feb. 23, 2013, 8:45 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
A BID is a good idea for 7th Avenue - better lighting, seating, plantings, and the like are good for business and keep crime down. It makes the street more attractive and liveable for residents, too. I would like to see them renew the aspect of the plan that employs homeless men to clean the streets--everyone wins. They get the dignity of earning a wage and the community gets a cleaner street.
Feb. 23, 2013, 8:50 am
JAY from NYC says:
Scott, hi, I guess we just see it differently, my description of 5th ave is as of yesterday, not 14 years ago, on the corner of 9th and 5th is a chase bank a gold buy back car serve combo and the d2 discount store and a falling apart news stand. Moving towards the Atlantic end of things its more of the same with so so restaurant, you named a bunch, but to me all of those are hole in the wall so so places, and I am not even getting in to the heroin shooting gallery area around the grocery store which maybe will go away not that southpaw is closed, but I guess we just have really different tastes, you like it, me, not so much. Maybe I am a glass is half empty guy. Its ok, but my real point here is that I like 7th ave better than 5th, and I like it the way it is, and don't want it to turn into another 5th ave, your vision is different than mine is all.
Feb. 23, 2013, 9:47 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I am not saying that the area shouldn't be cleaned up, but I do believe there are ways without making it hard for those that can't afford the rents when they would be raised. Saying that nearby 5th Avenue has fancy stores does show what kind of businesses can actually afford them while what others can't. If one bothered to click the link I already gave and go to the right hand side, there are many links there that explain the burdens of a BID, though I can see that some didn't even bother. Nevertheless, here is link to a source I found that explains how undemocratic a BID can be, and even though this is about London, the same can be implied to this one.

http://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/2012/07/24/fight-this-undemocratic-attempt-to-manipulate-fitzrovia-into-something-it-is-not/
Feb. 23, 2013, 5:15 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Jay, OK, fair enough. But if you evaluated 7th Avenue by the same filter you'd still fare worse. Smiling Pizza? Starbucks? Barnes & Noble? There's the anemic stretch between Methodist and the high school, the benighted block between there and PS 321 that has constant, constant turnover, and a couple blocks between there and Union that are, well, confusing. Even Uncle Moe's, on 9th Str & 7th Ave., is gone. So there's less there, there.

5th Ave has more contrast between the dollar stores on the south and the chi-chi boutiques further north, but at least from 9th Str north it's a more consistent experience. What makes a better than so-so restaurant? For my money, no matter what you're jonesing for, from Asian to Italian, Americana to Comfort food, high-end to cheap eats, you're going to always find a better place on 5th Ave. I can't honestly name or think of a single other street in NYC where you can say as much. Manhattan has better rated restaurants, but they're few and far between and you have to expressly go there; there's no such thing as casually strolling down the street, not quite sure of what you're in the mood for, and finding it in spades and shades of variation the way you can on 5th Ave.

But I think the guys on 7th Ave know that, and why they're trying to form a BID. I wouldn't have said that 14 years ago, but it's definitely true now: 5th Ave is where the hippest and best are in this neck of the woods. 7th Ave is now where 5th Ave was back then.
Feb. 23, 2013, 6:59 pm
jay from nyc says:
Scott, you have a point, uncle moes was gross though and I am glad its gone. No offense if you liked it. I guess for me though, 7th ave is a slightly nicer (although not by much) version of 5th ave, it is true that there is more stuff on 5th , but I think in general its lower end stuff on 5th that does not really interest me too much, I like Bogota and a few other places on 5th, but I also only like a few places on 7th as well, although I will confess that smilys is one of them. I guess at the heart of this is that I don't really see how this proposal will make things better, and I am not sure what fixing up 7th ave means.
Feb. 23, 2013, 8:28 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Come on, really?

"If one bothered to click the link I already gave and go to the right hand side, there are many links there that explain the burdens of a BID, though I can see that some didn't even bother."

What? Those are internal navigation for the SoHo anti-BID Wordpress page. None of those are the "studies" you claim. By the way, I googled "effects of business improvement districts" -- there are MANY MANY empirically-based scientific studies out there. Why can't you share even ONE of those? Or do you stick with just reading random Wordpress websites?

And your most recent link? An emotionally charged opinion piece?

Seriously, Tal, you need to start reflecting a bit on your "research skills." You know how this works? You read websites like the SoHo Anti-BID Wordpress site... that gives you something to think about. "Hmm. That's interesting and thought-provoking." THEN... and this is the part you seem to be missing... THEN you approach the topic critically to LEARN something. Actually try to find Facts from independent, reliable sources.

Let's use you usual topic of interest. Which source would be more reliable to determine if traffic flow has improved due to a change in the traffic pattern or infrastructure? (A) Research study by traffic engineers and urban planners that use valid, industry-standard methods? or (B) A few random opinions you find in the letters to the editor section of the Daily News?

If you notice, you tend to go with (B) and you tend to either ignore (A) or claim that the data and analysis of the data for (A) is part of a government conspiracy.
Feb. 24, 2013, 10:20 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, I take it whatever doesn't agree with you has to be nothing but someone who happens to be opinionated and nothing more. If it agrees with you, it has to be facts. Who is being selective now. How about telling me where you find that claim to be false rather than just slamming it. That sounds more as if you are being defensive here. Nevertheless, this one does go more in depth on why BIDs are a bad idea.

http://old.gothamgazette.com/article/communitydevelopment/20061019/20/2005
Feb. 24, 2013, 11:25 am
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Oh my friggin' Lord!

Do you see that I mentioned how I googled "effects of business improvement districts"?! Did you read that?

Guess what? Several studies (at least in part) supported you original statements... to a degree. Empirical, scientifically-based studies. Not Wordpress websites. Random activist websites. Doing this yourself is not that difficult. You can do it! It simply requires thinking for a little bit instead of what you normally do.

Finally, your most recent link got close to actually supporting your claims with facts. FINALLY! But do you notice that this article presents a balanced view? It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT support your claim that "BIDs may seem good at first, but in the long run they are a bad idea." It shows that BIDs are complex.
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:06 pm
s from PPW says:
Ty, I'm begging you. Stop responding to Tal. Have you ever noticed that most comment threads are just between you two? Seriously, enough.
Feb. 24, 2013, 9:32 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Another reason I have been known for opposing BIDs is because they are just another gentrification movement that drives out those that have been there for decades due to rising rents.
Feb. 25, 2013, 5:33 pm
JAY from NYC says:
Tal, your buddy Dov Hikind dressing up in blackface, same guy who called for the people at Brooklyn College to not be allowed to speak, so hows that for truth and who is the racist after all huh Tal?
Feb. 25, 2013, 10:36 pm

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