Tag Archives: Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District

Ridgewood real estate conference brings together community and commerce

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Real estate moguls, business owners and residents filled the Ridgewood Ale House on Friday morning to hear a panel of experts discuss the future of Myrtle Avenue during the Ridgewood Real Estate Networking Breakfast Conference.

Sponsored by the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), the conference focused on how to better bridge the needs of the community and the types of retailers that come into the BID to help Myrtle Avenue grow and make the area even better for Ridgewood residents in the future.

“A lot of times what happens is, a store comes in just to come in and it’s really not what the neighborhood needs or wants because we already have an oversaturation,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “But the property owner is interested because he wants to fill the space, the broker wants to make his commission, which is fine, but we want to build a better dialogue that we can all be happy together and everybody wins.”

One example of retail brokers working with the community is the case with the former Ridgewood Theater, a landmark fixture in the neighborhood that has been vacant for the last several years. Now, the theater will be converted to 55 units of housing with a mixed-use facility on the ground floor.

Renz hopes to see a collaboration with the owner and the BID to bring in a viable use for that floor through community engagement.

The need to remember what has worked in the past and to evolve for the needs of the future was highlighted throughout the conference by the panel of experts.

“We need a combination of being stuck where it’s good, but also evolve into something better,” said Linda Monte, panel expert and president of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society. “How are we evolving? Are we letting it happen or are we actually having a sense of we can make it happen? So I think that that’s the challenge that we all need in terms of the Ridgewood community.”

When it comes to building larger retail developments, it is important for the developers to realize the identity of the community in which they are working.

“Particularly in retail, when we look to a market, especially the types of large-scale retail projects that we build, can that type of project make sense in the community? A lot of it has to do with what is the community’s identity and does the community actually want that,” said Scott Auster, panel expert and managing director for Grid Properties. There are certain communities that embrace that type of development and economic activity, and there are others that don’t necessarily want it.”

By bringing the community and retailers together, Myrtle Avenue can continue to be a viable hub for the residents of Ridgewood.


DOT commissioner headlines Myrtle Avenue BID meeting in Ridgewood

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


The city’s top transportation official touted ongoing traffic initiatives during the 27th Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) yearly meeting on Tuesday night in Ridgewood.

As the event’s keynote speaker, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg spoke in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative and touted the success of the program. Trottenberg has referred to the Vision Zero initiative as one of the “signature priorities” of both the de Blasio administration and the DOT.

“We look forward to this partnership on safety projects, causes and all of the other things that will help make this neighborhood really thrive and be prosperous,” Trottenberg said.

The action plans are meant to target problematic intersections with high crash and fatality rates. The DOT hopes to reduce incidents of injury or death through a combination of education, enforcement and engineering improvements, including curbside neckdowns and designated bicycle lanes.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, shared in Trottenberg’s optimism. “Vision Zero is working,” he said. “Fatalities are down, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Wachter employs a similar approach to the DOT’s action plans in his combination of community education and enforcement. This dual pronged effort focuses on preventing unsafe behavior through education while curbing ongoing hazardous behavior through hefty fines and enforcement.

According to Wachter, the 104th Precinct saw three fewer fatalities this year versus the previous year. For the captain, the success of Vision Zero is a joint effort shared among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

“Everybody’s got to look out. It’s everybody’s job,” Wachter explained. He cautioned motorists and pedestrians alike to use be alert at intersections and dangerous turns, and warned pedestrians to avoid using cellphones while walking.

DOT Senior Project Manager Alexander Keating noted that the Community Board 5 area, which includes Ridgewood, is participating in the federally funded “Go Smart NYC” pilot program designed to reduce congestion and pollution while increasing foot traffic to local businesses and communities. Go Smart NYC aims to increase education regarding travel options and alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking, carpooling and mass transit.

As an added incentive, program participants sign in and log their trips on the Go Smart website in exchange for special discounts at local merchants and retailers. For example, local restaurants such as Ltauha and Ridgewood Eats are offering participants 10 percent off their dine-in orders through December 2015. Rudy’s Bakery, the Onderdonk House and Cook’s Crafts in Glendale are offering discounts for various goods and services.

Thus far, 289 Board 5 residents have signed up for the Go Smart NYC program, according to Keating. Out of the 229 total trips logged, 101 were on foot, translating into 15,000 total calories burned and a communal savings of $455.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso advocated for bike lanes and greater bike access throughout the district.

“Vehicles have a convenient way to get across in a way that bikes don’t,” he explained. “People are breaking the law to compensate for that, which is not acceptable, but as a city we need to make sure that we can put the infrastructure in place that would allow for them to move freely as well.”


Ridgewood march against proposed MTA bus rerouting plan

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the MTA

Members of the United We Stand Neighborhood Association, a newly formed civic group on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, will be holding a march and rally in Ridgewood this Saturday to oppose the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) proposed plan to reroute the B26 and Q58 buses.

The MTA’s proposal would take these two buses off of Wyckoff Avenue and instead reroute them onto Ridgewood Place. The MTA cites dangerous turning conditions at the three-way intersection at Palmetto Street and Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues as well as heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic as reasons for the proposed changes.

This location has been the scene of many traffic-related injuries, several involving MTA buses, including the fatal accidents that killed Ella Kottick Bandes in 2013 and Edwin Torres in 2014.

“The whole idea of rerouting buses in the area of Myrtle and Wyckoff was due to the need to make traffic conditions safer for pedestrians,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “Unfortunately, two people were killed in vehicular accidents at that intersection. The decision on which blocks to reroute the buses to was studied by the MTA. This was done to save lives. The whole reasoning was for pedestrian safety.”

The United We Stand Neighborhood Association was formed in April of this year to combat this rerouting.

“We are a newly formed group,” said Flor Ramos, member of United We Stand Neighborhood Association, in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “We got together mainly because of the situation with the bus rerouting. Nobody wants those buses around there.”

Protesters will assemble at the intersection of Putnam and Wyckoff avenues at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. They will begin their protest at noon and march along Putnam Avenue to Ridgewood Place, ending on Palmetto Street, which is the proposed new route for the buses.

“Now it’s totally going to affect our quality of life,” Ramos said. “There is the noise issue and the fumes. Now you will have double the noise from screeching breaks and compressed air making that horrible bus noise echoing through the streets. We won’t be able to leave our windows open. These are all residential house along this new route. Wyckoff Avenue is all commercial.”

Currently, the Q58 travels down Putnam Avenue, turns right onto Wyckoff Avenue and right again on Palmetto Street, where the Ridgewood Terminal is located. The B26 travels straight down Wyckoff Avenue to Palmetto Street to the Ridgewood Terminal.

“That intersection is the beginning of our commercial district,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, who supports the bus route changes. “Since day one, we have been working with the city for the mayor’s Vision Zero plan and have advocated for improvements in that area.”

The proposed changes would have the Q58 turn right onto Ridgewood Place, then right again on Palmetto Street, while the B26 would turn left onto Putnam Avenue, right onto Ridgewood Place and right onto Palmetto Street.

“Overall, the buses will be making five new turns with this new route,” Ramos explained. “The B26 will add three more turns and the Q58 will add two more turns. They will be taking the accidents from there and bring them to the new location. That is going to cause a lot more problems.”

Members of United We Stand Neighborhood Association believe that moving the bus routes to Ridgewood Place would put more children and elderly at risk since the streets of the proposed reroute are very narrow, which would make it difficult for a bus to turn.

“Sending out a bus through there, all they’re doing is bringing that problem to our streets,” Ramos said. “There is nothing they can do about making the streets wider.”

“You have wider streets on Wyckoff and Palmetto,” Ramos continued. “There is about a 5-foot difference in width. The sidewalks on Wyckoff are much wider, giving bus drivers a better view of pedestrians passing through there.”


Myrtle Avenue BID pushes for dedicated trash pickup service

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Full and overflowing public wastebaskets are a common sight on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is looking to do something about it.

In the fiscal year 2016 expense budget, the Myrtle Avenue BID has requested the restoration of six-day dedicated basket pickup service from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Currently, this service is only being provided three days a week within the Myrtle Avenue BID. The present service consists of a dedicated basket run on only Mondays and Wednesdays on the midnight to 8 a.m. tour. On Thursdays, the garbage baskets in the Myrtle Avenue BID often go uncollected because household refuse takes priority.

“Overflowing corner baskets are the first thing shoppers and potential new store owners see along our shopping districts,” said Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue BID in a statement to the Ridgewood Times. “They are an eyesore and create an unpleasant shopping environment.”

Comparable business improvement districts, such as the Greenpoint Avenue/Queens Boulevard Sunnyside Shines BID and the Steinway Street BID, have at the minimum five- to six-day corner basket pickup service between the dedicated basket truck and regular household pickup.

The Myrtle Avenue BID, along with the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), is looking for similar service for not only the BID’s area, but for all major commercial retail business corridors within Community Board 5. Those areas include Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Cooper Avenue, Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle Avenue and Eliot Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 80th Street, and Grand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and 74th Street.

Throughout the fiscal year 2016 budget process, the Myrtle Avenue BID and RLDC have testified regarding this need during different capital and expense budget hearings. They have also met with Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley on the issue.

“Recently we did receive some good news that Myrtle Avenue will receive extra service on Tuesday and Saturday and that corner baskets would be given special attention because on those days there is a dedicated half mobile litter patrol,” Renz said. “Therefore, while we are grateful for this response, we will need to push for dedicated basket routes.”


Second Myrtle Avenue pedestrian plaza gets community support

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Call it the Myrtle Avenue makeover.

Community Board 5 (CB5) is in favor of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan to transform the corner of Myrtle and 71st Avenues into a pedestrian plaza.

The plan to makeover the space was almost fully accepted at the board’s most recent transportation committee meeting, except for a few minor changes.

Photo courtesy the Department of Transportation 

“It’s a nice attribute for the community,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and a member of the community board. “Pedestrian plazas have become very popular throughout the city.”

The DOT will install new lighting, bike racks, plants, chess tables, chairs and umbrellas for shade, and raise the sidewalk for the new square.

Renz said the BID will look to create art and music programs and variety of services at the plaza for the community to enjoy when it is completed.

But before that, the DOT has to tweak the plan and present the final designs to the community board’s transportation committee for approval at an upcoming meeting.

The plaza is just one of two coming to Myrtle Avenue. The city’s Department of Design and Construction is in the final design phase for another public square at the intersection of Myrtle and Cooper Avenues in Glendale, which is known as the Glendale Veterans Triangle. It is expected to go out to bid and start construction by next year, according to Renz.

Rendering courtesy of the Department of Design and Construction



Community urges new Ridgewood Theater owners to discuss site plans

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The curtain might be closed for good at the Ridgewood Theater.

The 1915 building has been vacant since March 2008, said Theodore Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). In 2010, the Guzman brothers took over ownership and intended to put a supermarket in the building, but the plan was never implemented. The brothers are now selling, with the new owners expected to come in at the end of May, according to George Danut of the CPEX brokerage firm.

“Whatever the new owners have in mind, it will be good if they engage the community going forward,” said Mercy Wong, co-founder of the We Love Ridgewood Theater group and member of Community Board 5.

Danut said the new owners, whose names could not be disclosed due to terms of the sale, shelled out $7 million for the property. With the facade registered as a landmark, the new owners plan to renovate the building shortly after the deal is closed. They plan to put in a retail space on the bottom floor and convert the top into a residential spot, Danut said.

But not so fast, said Ridgewood residents.

Wong has worked since 2010 to revitalize the vacant theater with hopes of making it an entertainment venue. She and the group have reached out to community leaders and politicians to see what can be done, and said the Guzmans’ sale “threw them for a loop.”

“Generations of Ridgewood residents have gone to the theater,” Wong said. “They’ve gone on their first dates there, gone to prom [and] graduated high school. It has a really deep history in the neighborhood.”

Danut said the new owners have retail and residential properties in Brooklyn that have done well, so “they know what they’re doing.” Community members still want to sit down and discuss options for the space.

“Whether the new owners will be receptive to what the community wants, that I can’t tell you,” Renz said.

Wong said she has spoken with people that live in the area or have been to the theater, and many want the site restored as something entertainment-related or even as a theater.

“This is a cause worth saving,” Wong said. “The owners could be risking the identity of the building.”

Renz said BID is open to discussions with the owners and simply wants to restore the site to viable use.

Once the new owners have officially moved in, Renz was told they would meet with him and other community representatives.

“We’re open to any kind of adaptive use,” Renz said. “If they decide to do housing on the upper [level], maybe they’ll allow the bottom to go to entertainment use. We can help each other.”

“At least listen to us,” he added. “That’s all we’re asking at this point.”

The Guzman brothers could not be reached for comment as of press time.