With help from the borough’s Chamber of Commerce, Boston Road merchants in the north Bronx are working to form their own improvement association.
The Bronx Chamber has been awarded a grant to start the association along a stretch of the road in Baychester complete with mom and pops and big chains.
Avenue NYC, an initiative sponsored through the city Small Business Services, provided a $20,000 grant to the chamber to kickstart the effort.
They have one year to convince Boston Rd. businesses between 211th Street and Baychester Ave. to take part in the association that could be a boon for their business.
“We’ve done it in Throggs Neck, Morris Park and Castle Hill,” said Lenny Caro, president of the Chamber.
He met with a small group of eager local businessmen on Tuesday, Aug. 20 to discuss the plan.
“At this point we thought it was time to move up here ino the Bronx,” said Caro.
He and chamber staffer Marques Payne joined Councilman Andy King on Aug. 16 to visit the independent hair salons, auto equipment and clothing stores, working to convince owners to take part in their effort.
“We’re trying to form this merchant association on Boston Road with the hope of of enhancing the businesses,” has been Payne’s pitch to store owners.
Among those paid a visit was Lipkin Shoes owner Alex Douglas, who was once part of an effort to start a merchant association years ago, though interest fizzled.
“It was like three or four people doing all the footwork, and we got discouraged,” said Douglas. “We’re hoping to rekindle that interest.”
But this time the effort has received major support from Bruce Bendell, co-owner of the local Toyota, Hyundai and Ford dealerships running along the thoroughfare.
“We think we can bring more traffic to this area,” said Geller.
Location is certainly advantageous for merchants along the busy strip, resembling a freeway along some stretches.
Forming a merchant association comes with various perks that include tax benefits, marketing incentives and the chance, ultimately, to become a bonafide, city-supported business improvement district.
“The net result is you attract more retailers to the area,” said Chamber Chair Joseph Kelleher, speaking of establishing a BID. “Property values are going to go up with it.”
Caro, ever the optimist, is convinced area businesses will embrace the initiative this time around.
“They’ve been let down a couple of times cause other people have picked it up and not followed through,” said Caro. “We’re going to give them a good year of support.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383