Some business owners are saying no to the expansion that would bring a business improvement district (BID) to the Jackson Heights and Corona area for fear of losing what makes the community diverse.
The 82nd Street Partnership, a non-profit group promoting the current local BID covering four blocks and over 160 businesses, announced in March it would be extending all the way through 114th Street as part of Councilmember Julissa Ferreras’ New Deal for Roosevelt Avenue to form the Jackson Heights-Corona BID.
Members and supporters of the Roosevelt Avenue Community Alliance, created to put a stop to the plan for the BID, rallied at Corona Plaza on Sunday, September 8. According to members of the group, they fear the BID will get rid of the small businesses that make up Roosevelt Avenue, push out the immigrant community and raise rents. The group later marched to Ferreras’ office on Junction Boulevard.
“This movement is no longer just a Roosevelt Avenue small business owners’ movement, it is a movement of the community,” said Freddy Castiblanco, owner of Terraza 7, a Jackson Heights bar, who is looking for an open communication with local leaders and politicians. “Roosevelt Avenue is mega diversity. We can’t allow the standardization of projects like the BID. We are here to say no to the whole process of gentrification and expulsion of our diversity.”
Yet, according to Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, most of the opposition is coming from the community not having the right information on the BID.
“There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there and that seems to be driving a lot of the fear,” said Taylor. “It’s our job that everyone has all the information they need so they can make an informed decision.”
The BID plans to become a community-driven effort including property owners, businesses, residents, public officials and other stakeholders.
“This is really a small business survival strategy,” said Taylor. “This is an opportunity for the small businesses on Roosevelt avenue to make an investment that goes right back into the neighborhood.”
To date, Taylor said they have held seven public meetings, seven steering committee meetings and dozens of one-on-one meetings with business owners. More meetings are planned for the coming weeks.
BIDs have proven to be successful in other neighborhoods — for example on Fordham Road in the Bronx and Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, and especially in immigrant communities — said Taylor.
“We are asking people to keep an open mind, to take time to learn the facts and to voice their concern so we can find a way to work together to invest in our neighborhood and improve quality of life for everyone,” he said. “We want to remind everyone that this is an initiative that will only happen if there is wide spread support of the small business community.”
Ballots for the BID will be sent out in the mail in October and decision making will be done by a board of directors that represents the diverse area and community members.
“The current problems on Roosevelt Avenue hurt everyone, including our working and immigrant community and small businesses,” said Ferreras. “This is why I believe a business improvement district is a solution to this problem.”
For more information on the BID, you can visit www.jhcoronabid.org.
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