What is the SoHo Broadway BID (Business Improvement District)?
I was contacted by an NYU Journalism student to give my thoughts and insight to the SoHo Broadway BID. It made me realize there is still a lot that I don’t know about it even though it was approved a year ago (last October 2013). Here is the map of the SoHo buildings within the BID district:
Business Improvement Districts are not a new concept for New York City…in fact there are already 68 other BIDs around Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. The SoHo BID encompasses 12 blocks and 280 tax lots. Commercial property owners fund almost 100 percent of the BID’s annual budget of $550,000. The 146 residential condo owners and the 14 co-op buildings along the part of Broadway pay $1 per year. Finances do not dictate the governance of the BID. Property owners — residential and commercial — will have majority representation.
The proposed BID for SoHo’s Broadway seeks to:
Foster a unique, vibrant, mixed-use district with enhanced maintenance and public safety, effective advocacy and administration, technical and professional services for its members, and strategic capital improvements.
Each BID is required to develop a District Plan which answers all reasonable questions about the intentions of the proposed BID:
- BID district
- Services and improvements
- Annual operating budget
- BID Assessment formula to calculate the annual charge to each property within the BID area
- BID organization
- Other planning documents
Some of the topics we discussed were:
-How did you initially learn of the BID?
I learned about the BID when researching community organizations in SoHo and Manhattan. I knew that Soho Strut would eventually strive to build community; connecting business owners, managers and residents together, and I wanted to learn about potential “competition”.
After learning more about the BID, although one of the “pilars” is to develop a Program Services Committee, this is something that only passionate full-time residents would be able to execute on.
-Why do you think it was needed in the SoHo Broadway area? Is there anything you can tell me about the area prior to the BID?
I think SoHo has needed a BID for quite some time. There are 13,000 residents in SoHo and 8,000 in Nolita, however, it is safe to assume over 20,000 people walk through the neighborhood each weekend. At the end of each day, the streets are filthy and residents don’t feel responsible to pay for the cost to clean up the streets, since it was caused by the local businesses. Therefore, this BID is a tax to the businesses since they are the ones contributing to the mess.
-How do you think it’s changed the district?
I don’t think it has changed the district over the past year but I hope things will change going forward. As a member of the community, I have actively engaged conversation with the committee members but have not heard back from a single one. The ACE Community Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to rehabilitating homeless people (including street cleaning) does an amazing job as it stands. From what I can tell, they will still be cleaning the streets.
-How has it impacted the community if at all?
I haven’t seen or heard from the community about the BID impacting the community – The streets are still getting cleaned, and communication has been non-existent. I would love to learn more about on-going progress of the BID and hope they continue to develop processes to communicate with the community on the progress and milestones made.