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Fordham BID eyes Plaza

Bronx Times

The borough’s biggest BID is busting.

It may shock some to know that the Fordham Road Business Improvement District never included the iconic One Fordham Plaza under its jurisdiction.

But a border expansion effort is underway to incorporate the twelve-story office complex along with its neighboring pedestrian mall, with commitments already made by 1FP property owners.

They’ve already agreed to be part of the BID, now entering a public review process in formalizing the expansion, on the mind of executive director Wilma Alonso for quite some time.

It’s advantageous for the BID to add 1FP into its borders, since more stores, including a Famous Footwear, Starbucks and Party City could potentially arrive there.

An Applebees restaurant and TJ Maxx clothing store are already up and running, as well as several affiliate offices from city agencies.

“Not having One Fordham Plaza in the BID is very strange to us,” said Daniel Bernstein, co-executive director of the BID.

For the past several months, he and Alonso had played a seduction game of sorts with 1FP managers by offering “a taste of the BID,” which included all the group’s pedigree perks. BID capital projects have included Plaza beautification, extra garbage bins and more benches.

On top of sanitation services, 1FP was also treated to promotional services already available to the roughly 300 BID businesses ranging from 99-cent stores to high-end jewelry boutiques. Several free summer outdoor movie nights were also presented thanks to a grant from the BID Challenge contest. Social media help choose the final screening--Disney’s Brave, which will be shown Friday, Sept. 6th.

“One of the biggest impacts of a BID is sanitation,” boasted Bernstein. “That’s one of the areas we spend the most money on.”

Their expansion effort coincides with their interest in taking over the pedestrian plaza, home to several knickknack kiosks. ABC Concessions currently leases the space from the city Dept. of Transportation, the landlord.

The plaza is now undergoing a major traffic renovation project to streamline the bus loop and pedestrian flow.

As part of the city’s master plan that re-envisions the plaza, DOT will look to replace the longtime flea market with a flexible cultural venue, complete with movie screenings, concerts and holiday markets.

The city will release a Request for Proposal shortly, though Alonso and Bernstein said officials have formally requested if they can manage the plaza mall to fill the city’s need in finding a community partner.

“It will give us a Bryant Park opportunity,” said Alonso. “But without the greenery.”

The BID is also eyeing adding property owned by the now-closed Cookies clothing store on Webster Ave., now leased to the Burlington Coat Factory expected to open later this year.

Overall, Alonso expects higher property values as a result of the expansion.

By expanding its borders, the BID can now expect a larger kitty made possible through BID tax assessments paid by property owners, who pass the costs to their tenants. Funds are then re-invested back to the shopping stretch, which pays for capital improvement projects.

“It’s a direct benefit to a tenant,” said Alonso. The BID’s current operational budget is $709,500.

One plaza beautification project included major upgrades to 188th St. and Fordham Rd., converting it from dead space to “an urban oasis” of sorts.

If approved, 1FP and the pedestrian mall is expected to be part of the BID by summer of 2014.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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