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BID awaits money

Southern Boulevard started its Business Improvement District nearly a year ago. At least, that’s when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the organization into effect. But BIDs need money to run and the Southern Boulevard BID remains penniless.

BIDS are self-funded and city supervised, powered by local property tax revenues. Southern Boulevard’s landlords are on board. In fact, they are the BID board, but city paperwork is holding up the organization.

“There are a lot of steps,” Medina Sadiq of the Southern Boulevard BID said. “We’re expecting our first $50,000 any day now.”

Money issues aside, the BID went to work November 21 with a walking tour of Southern Boulevard from 163rd Street to Westchester Avenue. Robert Walsh, the city’s Department of Small Business Services commissioner, tagged along, as did representatives from the Borough President’s office, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the 41st Precinct and the office of U.S. Congressman Jose E. Serrano.

“The walking tour was fabulous,” Medina Sadiq of the Southern Boulevard BID said. “It was really cold, so everyone was bundled up. It felt informal. And yet, there were a lot of heavy hitters.”

Walsh led the group down Southern Boulevard, offering sidewalk suggestions. The SBS commissioner noticed a shop sign tied illegally to a lamppost. Walsh spoke with the shopkeeper and, minutes later, down came the sign.

“He was wonderful,” Community Board 2 district manager John Robert said. “He was really hands-on.”

SBS oversees the city’s BIDs, and contributes administrative support. group discussed other sanitation issues – litter and graffiti on Southern Boulevard. Robert called the fliers pasted to lampposts layer over layer “disgusting.” The BID will hire a maintenance team to scrape them off and repaint the posts.

According to Sadiq, the BID will also focus on commercial concerns and security. Pickpockets are a problem on Southern Boulevard, as are shoplifters. The BID will encourage street vendors to leave the area.

“The vendors compete with the merchants and take up sidewalk space,” Sadiq said. “We’ll support the Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Sanitation handing out tickets.”

Mayor Bloomberg tipped his hat to the city’s small businesses Monday, December 1, at a Hunts Point Workforce Development meeting and increased the annual expenditures of 13 BIDs – including the Kingsbridge BID in the Bronx.

“I am supportive of any efforts to make our borough’s commercial areas cleaner and more business friendly,” Serrano said. “Business Improvement Districts are a helpful supplement to city services. It is essential that we give small businesses all the support possible as our national and local economy sag.”

The Southern Boulevard BID serves more than 130 businesses and will eventually draw $200,000 per year.

One of the BID’s first tasks presented itself unexpectedly last month, when a Southern Boulevard dry cleaners burst into flames. The fire spread, destroying five neighboring businesses – a pet shop, deli grocery, photo studio, hair salon and real estate brokerage.

Small Business Services hosted a fire recovery meeting November 24 and could secure $1,000 grants for each of the businesses affected. The BID, Sadiq said, will assist with relocation and rent negotiations.

Southern Boulevard started its Business Improvement District nearly a year ago. At least, that’s when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the organization into effect. But BIDs need money to run and the Southern Boulevard BID remains penniless.

BIDS are self-funded and city supervised, powered by local property tax revenues. Southern Boulevard’s landlords are on board. In fact, they are the BID board, but city paperwork is holding up the organization.

“There are a lot of steps,” Medina Sadiq of the Southern Boulevard BID said. “We’re expecting our first $50,000 any day now.”

Money issues aside, the BID went to work November 21 with a walking tour of Southern Boulevard from 163rd Street to Westchester Avenue. Robert Walsh, the city’s Department of Small Business Services commissioner, tagged along, as did representatives from the Borough President’s office, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the 41st Precinct and the office of U.S. Congressman Jose E. Serrano.

“The walking tour was fabulous,” Medina Sadiq of the Southern Boulevard BID said. “It was really cold, so everyone was bundled up. It felt informal. And yet, there were a lot of heavy hitters.”

Walsh led the group down Southern Boulevard, offering sidewalk suggestions. The SBS commissioner noticed a shop sign tied illegally to a lamppost. Walsh spoke with the shopkeeper and, minutes later, down came the sign.

“He was wonderful,” Community Board 2 district manager John Robert said. “He was really hands-on.”

SBS oversees the city’s BIDs, and contributes administrative support. group discussed other sanitation issues – litter and graffiti on Southern Boulevard. Robert called the fliers pasted to lampposts layer over layer “disgusting.” The BID will hire a maintenance team to scrape them off and repaint the posts.

According to Sadiq, the BID will also focus on commercial concerns and security. Pickpockets are a problem on Southern Boulevard, as are shoplifters. The BID will encourage street vendors to leave the area.

“The vendors compete with the merchants and take up sidewalk space,” Sadiq said. “We’ll support the Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Sanitation handing out tickets.”

Mayor Bloomberg tipped his hat to the city’s small businesses Monday, December 1, at a Hunts Point Workforce Development meeting and increased the annual expenditures of 13 BIDs – including the Kingsbridge BID in the Bronx.

“I am supportive of any efforts to make our borough’s commercial areas cleaner and more business friendly,” Serrano said. “Business Improvement Districts are a helpful supplement to city services. It is essential that we give small businesses all the support possible as our national and local economy sag.”

The Southern Boulevard BID serves more than 130 businesses and will eventually draw $200,000 per year.

One of the BID’s first tasks presented itself unexpectedly last month, when a Southern Boulevard dry cleaners burst into flames. The fire spread, destroying five neighboring businesses – a pet shop, deli grocery, photo studio, hair salon and real estate brokerage.

Small Business Services hosted a fire recovery meeting November 24 and could secure $1,000 grants for each of the businesses affected. The BID, Sadiq said, will assist with relocation and rent negotiations.

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