By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) issued a report this month highlighting the significant impact of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across New York City, including local BIDs in Union Square and the Flatiron District.
“BIDs create vibrant, clean, and safe districts that improve neighborhoods and commercial corridors by investing back into their communities,” SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop said. “This report highlights the long-standing partnership between the City and BIDs, working together to build a stronger New York.”
The report noted that BIDs throughout the city provide supplemental services offering sanitation and public safety that have helped shopping corridors feel safe for visitors and members of the community.
Regarding safety, the report pointed to the collaboration between the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and the Union Square Partnership after the steam pipe explosion in July 2018, which affected 125 businesses in 49 buildings in the Union Square and Flatiron neighborhoods. The report noted that the Flatiron BID played an important communication and coordination role, coordinating with city agencies, sharing information door-to-door and organizing a community briefing that offered updates on the incident. The Flatiron BID then partnered with the Union Square Partnership, as well as the Village Alliance farther downtown, that November to host a forum on emergency preparedness.
As Town & Village reported last year, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is also planning an expansion to expand the BID’s reach into other parts of the NoMad neighborhood, in order to fill in some of the gaps left empty by some of the BIDs to the north. Among providing services for businesses and residents of the area that the expansion will cover, the BID also aims to increase safety on the streets north of Madison Square Park not covered by the BID’s current boundaries.
The report also highlighted the Union Square Partnership’s program to develop a new plan for the district’s future, launched in 2019 and known as the Neighborhood Visioning and
Planning initiative. During the last year, the BID hosted participatory planning meetings for the community and collected feedback from residents, businesses, elected officials, community boards and other stakeholders in order to solicit a wide range of ideas, which it will use to inform projects and priorities over the next few years.
According to the Partnership, their Clean Team removed over 172,000 bags of trash last year and cleaned 18.085 instances of graffiti. The Partnership also collaborated with Columbia University to conduct a characterization study for public waste in the park and the 14th Street neighborhood, which found that nearly 85% of the trash in the Partnership’s public bins could be recycled, composted or recovered. According to the SBS report, the Union Square Partnership spent $1.1 million on sanitation services last year, which was 41.8% of the BID’s total expenses. The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership also spent about $1.1 million on sanitation over the last year, which is 34.1% of the BID’s total expenses.
Both the Union Square Partnership and Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership offer free seasonal activities in their public spaces and sponsored by businesses in the neighborhood. Union Square’s popular summer series Sweat Fest gives residents the opportunity to take fitness classes at nearby studios for free. Flatiron’s Summer Series offers fitness classes on the public plazas during the summer months, in addition to educational workshops. According to the report, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership held 97 public events in 2019 that were attended by 6,500 people. The Union Square Partnership held 211 events that were attended by 22,000 people.
The full report is available at nyc.gov/bids.