May 21, 2014 By Christian Murray
A monthly graffiti cleanup crew, a visitor/tourist kiosk as well as more trash cans along Queens Plaza are among the many new initiatives that the Long Island City Business Improvement District plans to roll out in coming months.
The BID, which covers Queens Plaza and a section of Jackson Avenue toward Court Square (see map below), held its 9th annual meeting Wednesday, with a great deal of focus being placed on bringing new services to the area, finding quality retail tenants as well as expanding the BID boundaries to incorporate a large section of Hunters Point.
David Brause, the BID chairman, described 2013 as the “year of the crane” and noted that with the flurry of new development—from 3 hotels to several residential complexes–there is a big need for the BID to help lure retailers to the area.
The BID started an initiative to bring such tenants to the district earlier this year.
Liz Lusskin, the executive director of the Long Island City Partnership, said the BID formed a “retail committee” to attract stores/restaurants to the area.
The committee is currently updating key marketing data, such as pedestrian traffic counts and population numbers —which are constantly increasing. The committee, which will be updating this data on an ongoing basis, will also help identify property for brokers and prospective tenants.
Brause said the expansion of the BID to incorporate the Hunters Point section of Jackson Avenue, as well as Vernon Boulevard through 44th Drive, would bring many benefits to that section of Long Island City particularly when it comes to marketing and sanitation services.
The LIC Springs event, a block party organized by the Long Island City Partnership that took place on Vernon Blvd on Saturday, was just a sample of how the BID could work with the Hunters Point business community, Brause said. The Long Island City Partnership estimated that well over 5,000 people attended the event.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who spoke at the annual meeting, said that he was “supportive of the expansion of the BID” and noted that his office allocated funds to help facilitate that growth.
Lusskin said the BID’s focus has changed since it was established, with less emphasis on security, as the area has become a lot safer.
The BID plans on letting go its security guard and recruiting a neighborhood “ambassador” instead. The ambassador would be a uniformed employee who would provide directions and information for visitors/tourists who come to the district.
Lusskin said the program has worked well in other neighborhoods and that the BID will start a 3-month trial period beginning July 1.
The BID also plans to spend money on buying trash cans to put up along Queens Plaza as a means to keep the area tidy. The BID is also introducing a graffiti cleanup program, where a crew will clean trouble spots throughout the district on a monthly basis.
Other items in the works include a kiosk, where visitors can get directions and find places of interest.
“We are looking at different types of kiosks to determine what would make sense—and are looking into locations [as to where to place it],” Lusskin said.
The kiosk would not be staffed by a full time employee and it would probably require being put away each night. Nevertheless, Lusskin hopes to introduce one to the area by fall.