Angel Caballero has spent the better half of a decade trying to organize a Burnside Avenue Business Improvement District, and he expects the three Summer Walk Street Festivals he has planned for this summer to go a long way in making that goal a reality.
Caballero is president of the Burnside Avenue Commercial District, which is organizing the walks. Besides providing activities for residents of the Burnside Avenue area, the goal of the walks is to facilitate communication between area businesses and merchants, and in turn strengthen the BID proposal, which Caballero has been working on for seven years.
The Summer Walks will take place on July 23, July 30, and August 6 on Burnside Avenue between Jerome and Davidson avenues. The commercial district held three initial summer walks in 2010 so Cabellero is aiming to build off the momentum they generated.
“It’s another stepping stone for the BID because it shows that we’re working together with both the community and local businesses,” Caballero said.
Networking and building consensus among prospective members are crucial in putting a BID together. Merchants and business people need to recognize that the organization, which would likely end up costing them both time and money, would be worth their while.
Building that consensus is especially difficult in the Burnside Avenue area because so many merchants have just one or two employees and can’t take time away from their shops to attend events.
Cabellero believes that food and retail stands at the summer walks will give local business owners a chance to get outside, meet each other, and recognize that they share common interests, while still being able to conduct business as they normally would.
Caballero hired Candido Gonzalez, former community coordinator for the Department of Sanitation, and gave him the assignment of developing the BID.
“The summer walks are part of the process for the merchants to meet each other and build that rapport,” Gonzalez said. “You have to build a rapport with these property owners.”
The property owners are the ones who would have to pay the initial costs of BID membership, although they would likely pass that cost down to their tenants in the form of increased rent.
Many Burnside Avenue property owners also live out of the area, so Gonzalez and Caballero have a difficult time tracking them down. The Burnside Avenue BID would run along Burnside, from University Avenue to Ryer Avenue.
Mohammed Adbullah, owner of Accra Restaurant on Davidson and Burnside, will be participating in the summer walks and is all for the BID.
“It’s a matter of cooperation by all the business people here,” Adbullah said. “If we can all cooperate, it will be better for everyone.”