The Westchester Square Business Improvement District held its annual meeting recently, highlighting the progress the Square’s business community has made since the formation of the BID three years ago.
The meeting, held on Thursday, June 25, noted the shopping hub’s improved image. It was only a few years ago that the area was primarily seen by many only as a location to make transit connections and to buy speciality items, said Lisa Sorin, the BID’s director.
Now, with scores of events held by the Westchester Square BID, often with local partners, the BID believes a new image for the Square is gradually emerging as a family-friendly destination, said Sorin.
The next phase of the transformation will be a rebranding of the image of the Square, she said.
“Over the course of the next year, we have a consulting team on board that is going to look at the neighborhood and its history,” said Sorin of the marketing efforts, adding that the consultants will survey the community and make recommendations.
The BID’s executive director personally believes that the focus of a rejuvenated Westchester Square will be on showcasing the arts, but said she will also be open to the consultants’ research findings.
Also discussed during the annual gathering was increasing the BID’s social media presence, which Sorin said had doubled in the past year, and continuing and expanding an ongoing partnership between the Hutchinson Metro Center and its new Marriot hotel.
Local businessman and BID chairman John Bonizio said that since the Square does not have big box stores, he considers the Hutchinson Metro Center and Montefiore Medical Center the area’s anchors.
Montefiore has purchased the assets of the defunct Westchester Square Medical Center and opened another medical facility, Montefiore Westchester Square, in addition to operating several facilities on Williamsbrige Road near the BID’s boundaries. The Hutchinson Metro Center is a close neighbor, located nearby on Waters Place.
In addition to holding a plethora of family friendly events, from movie nights to visits from Santa Claus, the BID will also be focused on obtaining funding to complete a security camera project that is already in operation.
The BID has already funded phase one of the camera project, which placed four of the first 15 security cameras in the Square, according to BID literature.
The BID is waiting for New York state to release grant funds to complete the project, said Sorin. The BID will work with the 45th Precinct on the camera project, she added.
The keynote speaker for the annual gathering was NY1 reporter Erin Clarke. He spoke of the role the media can play in highlighting businesses when they are celebrating a milestone or as part of a larger story.
He also expressed the media may provide more leverage to businesses in dealing with city agencies.
In addition, a number of awards were presented to local businesspeople and BID partners: Outstanding Service Partner Award to Department of Transportation Bronx Commissioner Constance Moran; Outstanding Community Service Award; Sandi Lusk of the Westchester Square Zerega Improvement Organization; Merchant of the Year, Bonavita Key Food; Corporate Partnership Award, Prestige Car Service and Bronx District Partner Award to the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.