say NO to the 3rd ave BID
3rd Ave BID,  Discussions

Business Improvement Districts Ruin Neighborhoods

To pave paradise and put up a retail parking lot, try founding one.

By Max Rivlin-Nadler February 19, 2016
Read full article in The new republic


If the BID model continues to proliferate, the commons that make a city great could be completely at the disposal of a single class, one that’s inherently opposed to discourse and organizing.

Is this NOT what the 3rd ave BID is doing?

And while cities like New York, Raleigh, San Francisco, and Phoenix are all in a rush to expand these spaces under the impression that BIDs help jumpstart the neighborhoods that are primed for development, it might be time to reconsider. 

It’s theoretically possible that a Business Improvement District can help a community and help small businesses grow through actions like improving garbage collection, putting on public events, and providing the tools small businesses need to navigate bureaucracy. But too often BIDs have turned against the businesses they were meant to serve, making the cost of entry into a new area even higher for local merchants, or lacking the transparency needed to instill trust from the community. 

Business Improvement Districts are a favored neoliberal practice that transforms mixed-income neighborhoods into the same chain stores one can find at any outlet mall across the country. And once a BID is in place, it’s incredibly difficult to dissolve: either a majority of property owners must turn against the BID, or there must be a direct decree from the City Council or Mayor. During the week The Gap opened in Jackson Heights—in one of the few blocks where a BID already exists there—it offered 70 percent discounts. Within a year, a low-end discount chain across the street had been replaced by a Banana Republic. 

These days, BIDs are one of the most popular ways to advance urban renewal, a vision for cities that favors large businesses that immediately mark a neighborhood as meriting a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. They’re also wholly un-democratic. Because of BIDs, entire swaths of cities have effectively been placed under private control.

While many boards have token directors consisting of community members and small business owners, these local stakeholders are never a majority. BIDs have been found to drive up commercial rents in the immediate aftermath of their formation; they also levy a mandatory fee from property owners every year, a cost that’s usually handed down to tenants. And BIDs are growing at a dramatic rate. As of 2011, the date of the last BID census, California led with 232 BIDs, with New York in second at 115. All of this growth has happened as researchers have begun to question the effectiveness of BID’s: A 2014 survey found that the districts actually negatively impact areas with significant levels of independent retail.  

Leave a Reply

Vote NO 3rd Avenue BID!

You Must Download and Print a paper ballot. Drop off to us at
7515 3rd Ave or give us a call (718)921-6159, we can pick them up.