Tag Archives: Seth Taylor

82nd Street BID executive director resigns, some community members ‘celebrate’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BY ECLEEN CARABALLO

Some Jackson Heights and Corona community members say they are “celebrating” as news came in that the executive director behind a controversial business improvement district expansion is resigning.

Seth Taylor, current executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, announced this week he would be resigning from his position.

Starting Sept. 15, he will begin serving as the executive director of the NoHo NY BID. The move, he said, was done because he “felt it was a professionally opportune time to move onto another opportunity — in this case, NoHo.”

Taylor and the committee at the 82nd Street Partnership have been working to expand the business improvement district (BID) to Roosevelt Avenue and tackle issues of graffiti, crime, poor lighting and lack of sanitation.

Yet they have also been faced with the issue of a lack of support from residents and business owners in the area — many of whom claim that the change is not worth the rise of costs and would kick out immigrant business owners.

Marty Kirchner of Queens Neighborhood United, and some members of the Queens community, said they are “celebrating” the news of Taylor’s resignation.

Kirchner, speaking on behalf of Queens Neighborhoods United, a coalition of social justice activists, expressed “feeling bad” for those in NoHo. In a release, he claims that Seth Taylor’s resignation was welcomed with open arms by many members of the community.

“The resignation of Seth Taylor is a victory for the neighbors of Roosevelt Avenue,” said Christian Guiñanzaca, an organizer with the coalition. “Seth Taylor has always looked down on the immigrant communities of Queens. This just goes to show that you don’t mess with the people and come back unscratched.”

Still, Taylor says he feels he has succeeded, and that the general response he has received has been one of gratitude.

“This is an extremely diverse community and people are entitled to think and feel the way they like to,” Taylor said. “When you lead a neighborhood change initiative like we’ve done there’s always going to be individuals and groups of people that are resistant to any kind of change.”

Taylor, who has been the executive director for the 82nd Street Partnerships since 2012, said that although he is excited to begin his journey in a new borough, he considers his time in Queens “extremely positive” and will remain focused on his work here as he transitions over the next week and a half.

In regards to the continuation of the expansion, the 82nd Street Partnership has every intention of continuing with or without Taylor, and Queens Neighborhoods United said they will continue opposing the BID.

The board of directors working on the BID expansion is actively identifying potential candidates to replace Taylor after he moves on in the upcoming week.

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Some small business owners, residents continue to say ‘no’ to BID in Jackson Heights, Corona


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The resistance continues.

During the first of two public meetings on Thursday, some Jackson Heights and Corona residents and business owners asked their community to vote no to the expansion that would bring a business improvement district to the neighborhood. They brought up issues which the BID would bring such as gentrification, and the rising of property costs and taxes.

“Right now they say $1,000 annually, once the project gets approved then a little bit more, a little bit more they squeeze one’s throat,” said Sergio Ruiz, a business owner of 15 years, about the estimated yearly cost per lot in the district.

The 82nd Street Partnership, a nonprofit group promoting the current local BID covering four blocks and over 160 businesses, announced last year it would be extending all the way through 114th  Street to form the Jackson Heights-Corona BID. It was later revised to stretch from 82nd Street to 104th Street and down Junction Boulevard. The corridor will include a total of 440 lots and about 850 commercial tenants.

Tania Mattos, a member of the coalition Queens Neighborhoods United, said the group has been trying to educate the community on what a BID is, the voting process and options, and they have been cleaning Roosevelt Avenue every two weeks.

“Roosevelt Avenue does not need the BID,” Mattos said. “It needs the city to wake up, to realize it has neglected Roosevelt Avenue for decades and I’ve seen it personally. Instead the broken sidewalks, perishing and poorly maintained elevated train is blamed on the residents.”

According to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, the concept of the BID came from every community resident she had spoken to expressing concerns about the safety and cleanliness of Roosevelt Avenue.

“They want to be able to walk, they want to be able to shop, they want to be able to come with their families and contribute to the businesses,” Ferreras said. “We have a very different and very vibrant business corridor, we deserve better, we deserve to be able to have a business corridor that is vibrant, clean and safe.”

Other business owners at the meeting showed their support for the BID and tried to encourage audience members to vote yes.

“We have to give it a chance and give ourselves a chance,” said Rosita Cali, a business owner and Jackson Heights resident for 17 years. “Let’s give ourselves the room, the chance to have the opportunity to try this and also if something comes out wrong we have the right to say that it’s not right. But if we give the opportunity and this is positive, why not enjoy all the changes?”

In the upcoming weeks, business owners, residents and property owners on Roosevelt Avenue will have to vote on whether they want the BID in their community.

“The BID is really an advocate for the business community, the goal here is to improve the shopping environment, make it cleaner, safer, more inviting and better for the small business,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

For more information, visit JHCoronaBID.org.

 

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Op-ed: Making a BID for the Jackson Heights-Corona commercial corridor


| oped@queenscourier.com

SETH BORNSTEIN

In Queens, we take tremendous pride in where we live, work and play. Whether we are in Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing or Jackson Heights, each community is unique with distinctive charms. Each neighborhood’s face is its commercial shopping district, where we buy goods, dine, stroll, and meet friends. It’s like going into “town” whether it’s around the corner from home or a bus ride away. The best commercial corridors are places we want to frequent; they are clean, safe and attractive and provide the goods and services we seek. We are fortunate that our borough has more than 100 of these strips.

The ones that really stand out are the Business Improvement Districts – or BIDs. These areas have distinct advantages; they allow local businesses to take control and make decisions to keep them cleaner, safer and more inviting. In Queens, there are BIDs in Astoria, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, Ridgewood Sunnyside and Woodhaven. All have enlivened their communities, benefiting businesses, residents and shoppers. Without exception these corridors are better places to do business now than they were prior to the BID designations. Just look at the cleaner streets, fewer retail vacancies and increased property values.

Under the direction of members, BIDs enhance and improve the look, feel and ambiance of the street. And in every single instance, the BIDs in Queens have proved their worth. They are bargains, too. Fees are based on property size, and the average cost per store owner is $37.50 per month. Considering what shopkeepers pay for sanitation tickets and holiday lights, this is a real savings. Other benefits include staffers who advocate for the business community.

The proposed Jackson Heights-Corona BID will tie together the Roosevelt Avenue commercial corridor. One of the borough’s most important, this long shopping strip under the No. 7 train is certainly worthy of a BID. Between 82nd Street and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, there are over 1,000 small businesses that are vital to the area’s economic well-being. In the last few years, the 82nd Street Partnership has increased services, adding cleaning, marketing and promotional programs. The Queens Economic Development Corporation is proud to have helped transform Corona Plaza at 103rd Street into a pedestrian paradise that has been heralded as one of the best public spaces in the city. (My prediction: It will get even better!) But to maintain these improvements and enhance the entire commercial strip, a BID is crucial.

Change is sometimes daunting. But BIDs throughout the city have created stable and exciting commercial districts. I invite any skeptic to walk with me through any borough BID and witness their vibrancy, cleanliness and diversity.

Seth Bornstein is the Executive Director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and has helped establish many BIDs in the borough.

 

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Op-Ed: BID will improve quality of life, economics


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY SETH TAYLOR

Earlier this year, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras announced a “New Deal for Roosevelt Avenue,” a holistic seven-point plan that aims to revitalize what is widely known as one of New York City’s most bustling, yet uncared for, commercial corridors.

Among the seven points is the creation of a “better business environment.” To accomplish this goal, neighborhood businesses, property owners and residents are now discussing a district plan that would expand the boundaries of the 82nd Street Partnership, a vibrant business improvement district (BID) founded in 1990, to include the busy but under-resourced stretch of Roosevelt Avenue to 114th Street.

The new Jackson Heights–Corona BID would also include vital corridors off the Roosevelt Avenue artery; namely, Junction Boulevard, 103rd Street, Corona Plaza and National Street.

Encompassing about 40 blocks with over 1,000 businesses, many of which are owned or operated by immigrant entrepreneurs, the Jackson Heights-Corona BID would become one of the city’s larger and most diverse BIDs. It would give this unique commercial district the resources and organizational capacity it needs to improve quality of life, promote local economic growth and, perhaps most importantly, plan for its future.

In planning the new Jackson Heights-Corona BID, the 82nd Street Partnership has been organizing numerous meetings and workshops with help from local groups including Make the Road New York, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Immigrant Movement International (in conjunction with the Queens Museum of Art), Junction Boulevard Merchants Association, the Corona Community Action Network, Queens Economic Development Corporation and the city’s Department of Small Business Services. Under the leadership of Commissioner Robert Walsh, the Department of Small Business Services has successfully launched 24 BIDs citywide since 2002, with 20 of them outside Manhattan.

To further guide the BID planning process, a steering committee composed of small business owners, property owners and residents has been meeting regularly since January of this year. And a dedicated trilingual merchant organizing team has been making daily door-to-door visits to businesses. The team has collected dozens of surveys and fielded comments about the proposed BID.

Based on the extensive community input we have received thus far, the Jackson Heights–Corona BID would create a better business environment by investing in the following core programs and services:

• Sanitation, maintenance and graffiti removal: The BID’s clean team will sweep sidewalk litter, empty litter baskets, remove all graffiti from public and private property, pressure-wash sidewalks to remove pigeon droppings, paint street furniture and shovel snow from crosswalks and bus stops.

• Advocacy and small business assistance: The BID will work closely with city government agencies including police, sanitation, parks, transportation, small business services, consumer affairs and the mayor’s office, among others, to foster a business-friendly environment.

• Public space improvements: The BID will work with the city to create public spaces that are inviting and comfortable. New street trees, brighter lighting, more bicycle parking, outdoor art and new benches are some of the improvements we can expect to see.

• Marketing and events: The BID will create a shopping directory and website, organize outdoor events and promote the corridors as great places to shop and visit year-round.

As more stakeholders learn about the Jackson Heights–Corona BID plan, it is encouraging to see support steadily grow. Over the next few months, we look forward to continuing our outreach, and we encourage everyone who has a stake in the district to please get involved in this monumental neighborhood-improvement effort.

For more info on the proposed Jackson Heights–Corona BID, please visit www.JHCoronaBID.org.

Seth Taylor is executive director for the 82nd Street Partnership.