Owners push for Hudson Sq. business district

By Albert Amateau

A group of property owners in Hudson Sq., a commercial neighborhood that is becoming more residential, met last week to discuss the proposal for a Business Improvement District in the area roughly between Canal and Morton Sts., west of Sixth Ave.

Proposed boundaries of a Hudson Sq. Business Improvement.
A recent survey of owners and tenants in the proposed BID has indicated that more street sanitation, maintenance and lighting, plus the creation of a strong identity and marketing image for the district are the main services that a BID should provide, according to Carvel Moore, consultant for the proposed district.

The subject of informal meetings and discussions for a year, the BID is still a year away from the completion of a process involving Community Board 2, the City Planning Department, City Council, mayoral review, and the agreement of at least 51 percent of the district’s property-owners, according to George Glatter, of the city Department of Small Business Services, which oversees the creation and operation of BIDs.

“We’re still two or three months away from the formal process which takes about nine months,” Glatter said. “It’s like having a baby.”

The tentative first year budget for the proposed BID is $520,000, and would cost property-owners 4.5 cents per sq. ft. each year, said Moore at the meeting on Wed. May 21. The largest buildings in the district are about one million square feet and the owner of such a building would pay $45,000 annually. The district also has small three and four-story buildings of 4,000 sq. ft. or less.

The proposed budget includes six street cleaners plus a supervisor and equipment; an executive director who serves as an operations officer; insurance; administrative expenses; office rent and a reserve contingency fund.

The BID requires the participation of at least 51 percent of the assessed value in the district as well as 51 percent of the property owners. “We currently have the participation of 75 percent of the square footage and assessed value in the area,” said Moore.

So far, however, only about 35 percent of the individual property-owners have indicated an interest in the BID, Moore said. “We still have to do more outreach to get to 51 percent,” she added.

Among the owners and property managers represented in the proposed BID’s steering committee is Trinity Real Estate, which owns more than a quarter of the square footage in the district. Ponte Equities, Newmark , Tishman Speyer Realty, Jack Resnick & Sons, Edison Properties and United Parcel Service are also represented.

David Reck, an architect who owns a four-story building at 512 Greenwich St. where he lives and works, is also a committee member. Reck, a member of Community Board 2 and a Democratic district leader, is a strong advocate for the BID.

Several property-owners, including the developers of the mixed-use Morton Sq. complex under construction between West and Washington Sts. from Leroy to Morton Sts., have not responded to BID letters, according to Moore.

While the city tax roles show 450 property owners in the area, about 300 are owners of space in condos and the BID steering committee is counting each condo board as one owner.

“By law, the city is not permitted to reduce services in a BID unless it reduces them city-wide,” said Glatter. “When BIDs show us such service reductions, we call the appropriate agencies and get those services restored,” he added.

Anticipating the impending city budget cuts and citywide service reductions in the coming fiscal year, Moore said that after July 1, neighborhoods will realize how important BIDs are.

In response to questions at the May 21 meeting, Moore said the BID does not contemplate providing anti-terrorist services. “Tenants say they don’t feel a sense of security but after speaking to the First Precinct about crime, we believe a lot of the worry is a matter of perception. Our security program will concentrate on lighting for the side streets,” Moore said.


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