Mayor de Blasio yesterday signed into law a new district plan for the Lower East Side Business District (BID). It includes a new formula for determining the assessments paid by property owners within the BID. The newly approved plan answers an important question hovering over the local non-profit organization for several years: how to compensate for substantial lost revenues from the closure of parking lots in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.
Those BID-operated lots will become part of Essex Crossing, the large residential and commercial project soon to break ground. At one point, the organization considered expanding its boundaries to incorporate Clinton Street and other areas of the neighborhood with high concentrations of retail. But in the past year, the BID settled on a different approach.
Executive Director Tim Laughlin said the new district plan is designed, in part, to ensure that (Essex Crossing as well as the increasing number of hotels in the community) pay an equitable share of overall assessments.” The plan, voted on by the BID’s board earlier this year and by the City Council last month, establishes a new formula for assessing property based on square footage in addition to assessed value. As a general rule, larger properties that do not conform to the contextual zoning put in place on the Lower East Side in 2008 will be paying more in comparison with buildings that are contextual.
The revised plan creates two new sub-districts including an area encompassing six former Seward Park sites (Essex Crossing parcels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 9). Laughlin explained:
Given the nature of the comprehensive development plan for Essex Crossing and the impact these large scale properties will have both now while under construction and in the future when fully built, these properties are assessed in a different manner paying a lower rate during the period of construction that lies ahead and a higher rate based upon the amount of commercial space contained in each building once fully built.
The plan also adds “economic development” and “community development” as core services provided by the BID. These potential services include: capital and technical assistance; transportation planning (including the maintenance of public plazas) and asset management (including the potential management of public markets and other public facilities).
In a statement, Michael Forrest, chair of the BID’s Board of Directors, said, “Changes to our District Plan will permit the BID to ensure a seamless transition as new development projects come online and importantly integrate them with the existing fabric of our local economy.”
The legislation was sponsored by City Council member Margaret Chin and Julissa Ferreras, chair of the Council’s finance committee. “By amending the method for assessments,” Chin said, “this key update to the Lower East Side BID’s district plan will enable the BID to further increase neighborhood vitality and foster the growth of local small businesses. I thank the BID for being a great partner in this effort, and I’m looking forward to seeing the positive results for the community.”
A public hearing was held on the plan May 27. Property owners were notified of the proposed changes on two occasions this past spring. The plan in its entirety is available on the BID’s website.