Those metal roll-down gates are poised for a colorful transformation. At a ceremony in the Bronx this afternoon, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District was awarded a $30,000 grant in support of the “100 Gates Program.” The local non-profit organization joined six other groups in winning the third annual Neighborhood Challenge Initiative. The competition, sponsored by the city’s Department of Small Business Services and Economic Development Corp., is designed support innovative ideas in local communities.
The concept is the inspiration of LES artist and skateboarder Billy Rohan. It was his idea to link up small business owners with neighborhood artists to enliven the drab gates protecting many storefronts after business hours. Rohan teamed up with the BID to launch the project on a larger scale. Most of the funds being made available by the city will go for paint supplies and $100 artist honorariums.
The winners were announced at the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse by Small Business Services Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball. Tim Laughlin and Natalie Raben from the LES BID were on hand for the event.
“The 100 Gates Project will combat illegal graffiti through the installation of painted murals on roll down security gates throughout the Lower East Side,” said Laughlin, the BID’s executive director. “Neighborhood Challenge funds will permit this dynamic public art initiative to improve quality of life while simultaneously supporting the growth of our community’s local economy and diverse mixture of small merchants.”
City Council member Margaret Chin added, “I look forward to seeing the Lower East Side BID put its winning proposal to work by beautifying the neighborhood and helping our small businesses become even more welcoming to residents, workers and tourists alike.”
The gate-painting initiative will take place later this year once the weather gets warmer.