Unanimous approval was garnered among merchants for the creation of a Castle Hill Business Improvement District, which will now move to the legislative phase after clearing the hurdle of achieving support among merchants and property owners.
In addition to the unprecedented level of support among merchants, about 60 percent of all landlords, merchants and homeowners in Castle Hill supported the creation of the BID, said John Bonizio, a Westchester Square business leader assisting in the effort to create the borough’s next BID.
The proposed BID would fan out over several blocks along Castle Hill and Westchester avenues, where they both intersect, along the commercial corridor, said Bonizio.
Bonizio said that he and Lisa Sorin, currently the Bronx Chamber of Commerce executive director, were asked by former Councilwoman Annabel Palma to help with BID formation in Castle Hill.
“Castle Hill needs a really strong clean up (sanitation) program and an advocacy program which a BID executive director would provide,” said Bonizio, adding the merchants need holiday lights and marketing plans.
“It is a matter of being able to organize the businesses, brand (Castle Hill) and market,” he added. “It should give businesses there the opportunity to come back and create a plan that will make consumers want to come there and shop.”
Bob Bieder, owner of Westchester Square Plumbing Supply, which was among the last businesses in the BID’s proposed area to support the proposal, said that be believes that the BID garnered widespread support because of the job that Bonizio and Sorin did of explaining the benefits of a BID to the local merchants.
“When you present these things in the proper light and when you explain what it will do to improve and add to their businesses, merchants respond favorably,” said Bieder, adding “There are BIDs all around the city and none of them have ever failed.”
Bieder added that he believes a BID in Castle Hill would make the merchants and the community stronger.
As a property owner, who would face a higher assessment to cover BID financing, Bieder said he was concerned because his piece of property is likely the largest in the area, with 110-feet of frontage on a corner lot. Corner commercial properties are assessed higher rates to finance BID operations, he said.
“My business would probably benefit the least from the BID,” Bieder said, explaining that one of the things BIDs do very well is generating foot traffic, however in the plumbing supply business, foot traffic is not a driver of sales.
Nevertheless, the merchant said that he believes it will add to the overall area, which he also calls home.
“It is the only money that you give to the city that you get back 100 percent,” said Bieder.
Bonizio attributed the widespread support of the BID in Castle Hill, which was better received than the Westchester Square, Throggs Neck or Morris Park effort was at the same stage, as a sign that merchants in the area see greater issues, and greater opportunity for a BID as a vehicle to handling some of their concerns.