FOR IMMIEDIATE RELEASE
Roosevelt Avenue Community Alliance
Immigrant businesses along Roosevelt Avenue unite in opposition to proposed Jackson Heights – Corona Business Improvement District.
Corona, Queens – Over 100 small businesses owners, street vendors, community board members, local residents and leaders from the neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights rallied today in Corona Plaza to voice opposition to City Council Member Julissa Ferreras’ plan to create a Jackson Heights – Corona Business Improvement District (BID) along Roosevelt Avenue.
“I have been running my business for eleven years,” said Freddy Castiblanco, owner of Terraza 7, a bar and live music venue in Elmhurst,” and today, along with other small business owners, we are leading a campaign against raising rents along Roosevelt Avenue. Our concern is that the BID will put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage to corporate chain stores, and that we’ll get displaced.”
A lively cultural performance with music by La Cumbiamba NY and poetry by Poetas en Nueva York kicked off the rally as people gathered in Corona Plaza, some danced while others held signs saying “No Immigrant Removal” and “BID excludes us.” In the press conference that followed business owners, property owners, street vendors, and community leaders explained why they were opposed to the BID as a sizable crowd in the plaza gathered around to listen, chanting “No to the BID! No to the BID!” between each of the speakers. After the press conference the chants continued, as the crowd marched down Roosevelt Ave. to Ferreras’ office on Junction Blvd, where organizers left a letter for Ferreras, explaining why they were opposed to the BID.
If approved, Ferreras’ plan would expand an existing two-block BID at 82nd St. to be one of the city’s largest, spanning from 81st to 114th St. along Roosevelt Ave., while incorporating retail hubs along Junction Blvd, Corona Plaza, and National St. The BID’s expansion is being managed by the Seth Taylor, who was appointed executive director of the existing 82nd St. BID less then two years ago. In a rush to expand the 82nd St. BID before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, organizers say that Taylor has not done sufficient outreach to business owners and has provided misleading information about the BID’s potential impact on the local economy.
As highly controversial associations of property owners, BIDs have proven to be devastating for local economies, displacing family-owned small businesses whenever they’ve been approved in densely packed retail corridors like those along Roosevelt Ave. With BIDs, “the story is the same all over,” says Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College. “A BID comes in and invariably the effect is displacement. They raise land values and the cost of doing business, and are designed to bring in chain stores.