As part of its stakeholder outreach process, the people behind the formation of the 3rd Avenue BID (Business Improvement District) held two open meetings to discuss the proposal. Our recording is from the evening meeting on July 25th, which was more contentious. A morning session was almost entirely positive.
The issue at hand is that the 3rd Avenue Merchants, which currently manages events and civic improvement on the avenue, are all-volunteer. As volunteers begin to retire, the events may be at risk.
You can listen in to the full public meeting, or quickly jump to sections of interest in the comprehensive audio bookmark section below.
This event recording makes more sense if you listen to our episode The Bay Ridge 5th Avenue BID first!
: indicates an interruption or conflict point. Speakers are identified wherever possible.
Introduction and Origins
- Meeting Opening
- Public Comment instructions
- James Ellis’s Introduction
- Steering Committee Introductions
- Bob Howe’s Introduction
- CB10 Chair Lori Willis Introduction
- Carlo Scissura’s Introduction
- Elected Officials’s Representatives
- What is a BID?
- Origins of the 3rd Avenue BID idea
- Outline of the Presentations
- Steering Committee Introductions
- Types of Stakeholders
Presentation 4: Cost & Assessments
- How costs were determined
- Preliminary Budget
- Allocations will vary over first few years
- Maximum Budget Cap: $560,000 / year
- Determining individual assessments
- $200 base fee to benefit large property owners
- 75% from frontage, 25% from commercial square footage
- “You’re going too fast” “Why did you invite us here?”
- F. DeVito: How is the budget cap increased?
- Reply: How a budget review process works
- F. DeVito: Confusion between budget cap review and board election process
- F. DeVito: Anger that budget cap process involves a City Council hearing
- Clarification: Budget cap process can be controlled by voting out the BID Board of Directors
- Clarification: Budget cap process is strictly overseen by city
- F. DeVito: How many lots are in the BID?
- Anthony: Bad experiences with other BID budget increases
- Lisa Eng: Other BIDs failed to notify about budget cap increases
- Attempt to move on with presentation
- Concern over high administrative costs
- Request for more detailed budget
- Second attempt to finish presentation
- Assessment by property type
- Class A: Commercial rates
- Class B: Non-Profit / Government / Infrastructure exemption
- Class C: Residential
- Typical assessment: $895 / year per building
Presentation 5: Example from a nearby BIDs
Question and Comment Session
- 1. Vincent: Regaining 3rd Ave.’s glory days
- 2. Elias: We need support on 3rd Ave.
- 3. Pat: Will the startup cost line item be adjusted after the first year?
- 4. Lisa: Many BIDs are irresponsible
- 5. Unidentified: How is the 3rd Ave Merchants currently funded?
- 6. Chip: Volunteer dues are unsustainable
- 7. Mark: A BID can make 3rd Ave. events sustainable
- 8. Erica: Will funds be distributed equally along 3rd Ave?
- 9. Anthony: How do BIDs improve vacancy rates?
- 10. Justin: What metrics do BIDs track, and how can we prove they are effective?
- “If you’re done, you’re welcome to leave.”
- Unidentified: Can funds be shifted to other line item services later on?
- Will the Merchants Association be replaced? Isn’t that a big step?
- Bob: Volunteers are getting tired
- Anthony: Accusation that Bob is denying him access to the Merchants Association
- Anthony: “[Bob] doesn’t want to relinquish the power”
- 11. John: Why do residents on 3rd Avenue get a chance to vote?
- 12. Anthony (Again): How are ballots certified?
- 13. Anthony (Again): Can the BID formation vote be defeated with a majority from just one stakeholder group?
- 14. Anthony (Again): Can I break my tenant’s contracts in order to raise their rents to pay for the BID assessment?
- 15. N. DeVito: The BID is too big a step. You should fund-raise more for the Merchants Association.
- You will not be able to hire locals to staff the BID
- Tenants and merchants have no interest in the community
- Concern about the “quality” of tenants in the neighborhood
- Clarification: How the BID Board will be elected
- Anger that the 3rd Ave Merchants never indicated it was in fiscal trouble
- Bob: The BID will be yours if you want to be involved
- Anthony: Wants to run the Merchants Association himself
- 16. F. DeVito: Why should residential tenants have a vote?
- 17. Janet: Fifth Avenue is filthy
- 18. Walter: Wants to move his business from Bensonhurst to Bay Ridge because of the Summer Strolls
BID Formation Ballot
Vote in favor or against the 3rd Avenue BID by filling out a secure ballot form. Ballots will be validated by the Dept. of Small Business Services.
You can vote if you’re a:
- 3rd Ave property owner
- 3rd Ave store owner
- 3rd Ave resident
- You regularly shop or visit 3rd Ave*
*Note that votes from shoppers and general Bay Ridge residents are less important to overall BID formation, as discussed in the recording. For BID formation, a majority of each three of the primary stakeholder groups must support it.
Frequently Asked Questions
It will be dissolved and replaced by the BID.
It will continue, and likely expand or become more frequent due to increased funding.
It is all-volunteer, it’s leadership is retiring, and has a difficult time securing donations. A BID ensures a reliable source of income to pay professional staff.
$895 / year per building
The assessment would equate to a 9-10% increase in yearly property taxes, from $9,100 to $9,995 for an average 3rd Ave building.
No. All commercial property owners within the BID area are required to pay the assessment.
2% (Assuming a monthly rent of $3,900 increased to $3,974)
No, though they usually do so.
5th Avenue has a 3-6% vacancy rate with a BID. 3rd Avenue has a 6-8% vacancy rate with a Merchants Association. Bay Ridge Avenue has a 12% vacancy rate and has no formal merchants group.
$560,000 / year maximum. Its finances would be public and independently audited on a yearly basis.
The BID will be run by an elected board made up of property owners, residents, and merchants.
Property owners, merchants, and residents who live within the BID boundaries.
Yes, but it triggers a lengthy city review process. During that time BID Board members can be voted out to halt the increase.
Marketing, event management, sanitation, street beautification (lights, benches, tree bed plantings), Small Business Services outreach and services, citywide advocacy.
- Point, Counterpoint On Proposed Bay Ridge BID, Kings County Politics
- Will A New BID For Bay Ridge Bring It Back The Way It Was?, Bklyner