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Westchester Square BID is getting closer

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The Westchester Square Business Improvement District inched a step closer to reality with a hearing before the City Council finance committee.

Merchants, landlords, members of the Westchester Square BID steering committee testified before the City Council Finance Committee, on Monday, October 17 in favor of the creation of a BID for the shopping district in Westchester Square, with no opposition at the hearing, said Association of Merchants and Business Professional of Westchester Square programing director Joe Regina.

Testifying at the hearing was Regina, who spoke about outreach to merchants and landlords; BID steering committee chairman John Bonizio; Joseph Kelleher, representing the Hutchinson Metro Center; Community Board 10 chairman John Marano; and Sandi Lusk of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization. The Bronx Business Alliance, New York City Small Business Services, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also offered testimony, attendees said.

“Westchester Square is one of the most important commercial strips in the Bronx, and each day it brings thousands of residents, students and visitors to its confines to shop, eat and converse with their neighbors,” Diaz said in a statement. “A business improvement district in this area would bring new services to the community, such as street cleaning, new marketing efforts, community events and holiday lighting that are greatly needed to insure the future vibrancy and economic vitality of this commercial district.”

Councilman Jimmy Vacca also reaffirmed his ongoing support of the BID effort and recalled that he and Bonizio worked together and reactivated the Square’s merchants association in 2006, leading to the beginning of the process of forming a BID in 2008.

“In 2006, I convened a meeting with John Bonizio where we reactivated the merchants association and saw that there were a lot of people willing to get involved,” Vacca said. “With that high level of involvement, we said let’s do a BID. We have made a big commitment of time, and money in my case, and are starting to see the fruits of our efforts.”

While no objections were voiced at the hearing, anyone wishing to voice objections to the project still has 30 days from the hearing date to do so, though none is expected, Regina said.

Westchester Square is an important transportation hub in terms of shuttling people back and forth from the Square to developments like the Hutchinson Metro Center, Kelleher said.

There has been and will be over the next three or four years over $2 billion in investments made at the Hutchinson Metro Center, the 911 call center now under construction, and new facilities at Bronx State Hospital, Montefiore and Albert Einstein, Kelleher stated.

“I think that for any business looking to relocate to the Bronx, and particularly the northeast Bronx, having Westchester Square as a jewel, with its train station that is well lit and stores with class A tenants will make this area a more attractive option,” Kelleher said. “I think the BID is going to happen and that it is going to be successful.”

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