The Lower East Side Business Improvement District held its annual meeting Monday night at Finale, the glitzy new night club/restaurant complex at 199 Bowery. The evening marked a change in leadership for the organization. Mark Miller (pictured, fourth from the right) stepped down as board president. His successor is Michael Forrest (pictured, second from the left), a local property owner.
Miller served in the top post for five years, hiring the current BID staff, presiding over the creation of the Orchard Street Visitor Center and starting several new events, such as LES Apple Day. Miller said he was feeling a bit nostalgic but was looking forward to staying involved with the BID in the years to come. As someone whose family goes back four generations in the neighborhood, he told guests that the continuing diversity and increasing vibrancy of the LES were gratifying to see. Staff and fellow board members praised Miller for his tireless work and his enthusiasm, and his dedication to guiding the BID through rocky economic times.
BID Executive Director Bob Zuckerman reviewed the past year’s accomplishments, including the successful DayLife street festivals. This year, DayLife will be back, part of the improvement district’s campaign to reinvigorate daytime foot traffic. He said the organization planned to move forward with a plan to expand its boundaries, beginning with a hearing before Community Board 3 in March or April. The goal is to win approval for expansion by the time Mayor Bloomberg leaves office at the end of 2013. The BID is also continuing its campaign to create office and/or incubator space on the Seward Park redevelopment site. A local development corporation is being created to potentially spearhead the construction of such a facility. Zuckerman has said his board feels strongly that the 1.65 million square foot project should include not just residences and retail but appealing spaces for office workers who will add to the vitality of the community.
A few highlights from the BID’s financial report. Assessments from property owners totaled around $335,000 last year. Two parking lots, which will be lost when the Seward Park project gets underway, generated $578,000 in revenue. The BID spent about $80,000 on street cleaning and about $15,000 on holiday lights. The budget forecast is very similar for this year; total expenses are expected to run $958,000.