Smith Street Alliance seeks votes to establish Business Improvement District

They’re making a bid to improve the neighborhood.

Members of the Smith Street Alliance are hosting a public meeting at Invisible Dog, 51 Bergen St., on April 19 focusing on plans for a Smith Street Business Improvement District (BID). The Alliance is composed of local property owners, business owners and residents who have banded together in order to establish a BID on Smith Street in the Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens neighborhoods. 

The Alliance is urging property owners who have concerns about sanitation, safety and the health of business on Smith Street to attend the public meeting, as the services provided by BIDs to their neighborhoods are those prioritized in voting by residents, businesses and property owners. Approval of a BID requires greater than 50 percent approval by property owners. There are 76 BIDS in New York City. 

According to the Alliance, some of the services the Smith Street BID would offer include street cleaning, graffiti removal, community events, advocacy for improvements, public safety and beautification. Voting is going on now, but the co-chairs of the Alliance for the Smith Street BID fear that if this push fails by the summer deadline when their current funding runs out, the chance for a BID will be lost.

“A BID is urgently needed to address the sanitation and safety issues on Smith Street, as well as the need for strong advocacy and beautification. Smith Street is literally surrounded by other BIDs, including ones serving Atlantic Avenue, Fifth Avenue and Downtown Brooklyn fighting for those commercial areas. Smith Street deserves and needs the same,” said Alliance Steering Committee Co-Chair Dawn Casale, founder of One Girl Cookies.

A BID would provide Smith Street much-needed advocacy with city government. 

“Right now, there is no one group that the city can reach out to and, more importantly, that Smith Street property owners can together reach out to with concerns. Other neighborhoods have BIDs and are thriving as a result. You only have to compare Atlantic Avenue and Fifth Avenue to Smith Street to see the difference,” said Alliance Steering Committee Co-Chair Heidi Cunnick, property owner and resident on Smith Street.

BIDs exist across New York City to deliver services above and beyond what is provided by New York City. Councilmember Lincoln Restler (CD33), whose district would include the Smith Street BID, told BID supporters at meeting, “BIDs across our community play a vital role in revitalizing our neighborhood’s commercial corridors, addressing the sanitation and safety concerns of small businesses, and bringing our communities together to green and improve our neighborhood. I strongly support Smith Street finally getting the BID we deserve.”

Councilmember Shahana Hanif (CD39) added, “As a longtime supporter of the Smith Street BID and having worked with the dedicated neighborhood leaders, it’s important that local business owners vote in support of the BID before the summer deadline. I’m grateful to the local businesses that have stepped up to turn this longtime community initiative into a reality. I encourage the community to also attend the upcoming Smith Street BID meeting on April 19 to learn more about their ongoing work!”

“We learned through the COVID experience the importance of BIDs functioning as the key organizing entity on the ground within a commercial corridor,” said Randy Peers, president & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Having a formal BID in place on Smith Street is an important next step in ensuring that the businesses will always have needed support in place during good times and bad.”

Funding for the BID would come from property owners within the BID who would receive an assessment on their tax bill each year. The assessment is based off a formula and takes into account the property’s size and commercial frontage. All funds raised by the assessment would be used directly to support the BID. 

“There is a cost to the BID, but there is an even greater cost and lost opportunity to inaction,” said concerned resident Mario Maltese.

Photo courtesy of Smith Street Alliance

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