The group behind a campaign for a business improvement district in Chinatown is stepping up its pr offensive. We received a lengthy news release earlier today touting the establishment of a BID as an anecdote to several of the neighborhood’s most vexing problems. It begins:
With the rallying cry, ‘Let Us Help Ourselves!’ community and business leaders in the Chinatown area have launched an effort to form a Business Improvement District (BID) as the most effective way to improve the quality of life for the people who live in, work in and visit the area.
The release goes on to say that business owners have now completed detailed surveys in support of the proposed BID:
Ninety-seven percent of community property owners who voted declared their support for a BID. Another 600 business owners and residents wrote letters of support. Long-time groups in our community such as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, American Legion and Canal Street Jewelry Association support the BID.
There are also quite a few details about how the organization would operate. The first-year budget would be $1.3 million, the vast majority of which would be used for sidewalk cleaning and trash removal. Right now, the Chinatown Partnership (using a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp) provides sanitation services. “But that grant expires December 31,” the release notes, “and community leaders are concerned that Chinatown would revert to the filthy conditions which prevailed before the clean-up program.”
Earlier this year, the Chinatown group worked out a compromise with their neighbors in Soho and the Lower East Side on the BID’s boundaries. The service area now under consideration is: Broome Street on the north, Broadway on the west, Allen and Rutgers streets on the east and White, Worth and Madison streets on the south.
But there’s another conflict looming. Property and business owners opposed to the Chinatown BID have mailed out surveys of their own and they have launched a petition drive. According to organizer Jan Lee, more than 150 businesses have signed their petition, many of them along the critical Mott Street commercial corridor.
We’ve been talking with a number of people for and against the proposed BID. Look for our in-depth report on the subject next week.