Belmont BID looks to buy Arthur Ave parking lot from NYC

Belmont BID looks to buy Arthur Ave parking lot from NYC
Frank Franz (l) in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
Schneps Community News Group/ Alex Mitchell

It’s no shock that parking in and around Arthur Avenue can be difficult to come by.

To address this issue, the Belmont Business Improvement District has launched an ambitious plan that will have shoppers thinking more about where they’re buying their tasty Italian delicacies or dining at one of the many popular restaurants, than their parking meter expiring.

The BID has embarked on a plan to purchase the city owned, municipal parking lot between Arthur Avenue and Hoffman Street, and in the process expanding the number of cars it can accommodate.

In December, the BID began collecting petition signatures from distressed drivers in search of parking. Since the start of the campaign on Christmas Eve, the BID has already amassed 1,000 signatures.

Currently, the three-hour parking limit lot offers 47 spaces. However, Belmont BID treasurer Frank Franz believes the lot is capable of holding a lot more cars than that – perhaps up tripling its current capacity.

“What the BID would do is install lift decks that would expand the lot’s capacity, and do away with a three hour parking limit,” Franz said, noting that each spot turns over 16 times a day on average.

“One spot (in that lot) results in about a $1,000 spent by the end of the day. The only factor that limits (our) businesses is limited parking,” the treasurer added.

Naturally, adding more spaces to the lot would be an ideal way to boost business, since the bulk of Arthur Avenue’s customers come by car, according to Franz.

Not to mention the needs of the hundreds of people that work in and around Arthur Avenue as well.

“Much of our business comes from the suburbs like Westchester and Long Island. People come from hours away and they’re certainly not taking public transit,” he said, adding that the area isn’t convenient to public transportation.

As it is, the Belmont BID maintains the city’s lot in a variety of ways to ease parking woes: it places a security guard in the lot to address safety, assigns a worker to keep the lot clean and adds traffic directors to help coordinate entries and exits during the busy periods.

Since the meter fares are the only revenue the city collects from the comparatively small lot, Franz said that it’s “not the city’s biggest moneymaker.”

Parking in the lot became more burdensome when Mayor de Blasio unveiled his CarShare program that reserved four spaces for car sharers.

Community Board 6 district manager John Sanchez took issue with the mayor’s plan, complaining that the board was not informed when the CarShare program was initiated. The car-sharing program is also costing the borough’s Little Italy a minimum of $4,000 a day in potential sales, according to BID estimates.

Next to the NYPD, the BID interacts with the NYC Department of Transportation more than any other government agency, mainly handling issues with parking, Franz says.

As more drivers add their names to the petition, the BID plans to meet with DOT and the mayor’s office to essentially start negotiating a purchase price.

“There’s no doubt we could utilize the lot better,” Franz said.

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