White Plains Road examines future

White Plains Road Business Improvement District executive director Larry Prospect (above) addresses the crowd gathered at F&J Pine Restaurant for the BID’s annual meeting on Thursday, October 16. Photo by Victor Chu

One of the busiest shopping strips in the central Bronx had a meeting of the minds recently, at F & J Pine Restaurant on Bronxdale Avenue, to celebrate the accomplishments of the White Plains Road Business Improvement District and plan for the rest of 2008 and 2009.

Merchants, landlords, business managers, residents, and elected officials met at the restaurant on Thursday, October 16 to present community service awards to Stephen Kaufman and Stanley Roth of Sterling Optical, and to elect the board of trustees for the busy BID, which runs south on White Plains Road from Pelham Parkway South.

Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera gave the keynote address, praising the work of the BID, which is an integral shopping strip in her district, and holding it up as a model as to what other commercial corridors can accomplish with hard work and cooperation.

“What you have accomplished at the White Plains Road BID is incredible,” Rivera said. “Most of the business districts in the 80th Assembly District are struggling because they are not organized. We have been identifying ways to create incentives but most of our merchants are not aware of the grants that are available.”

Rivera said that the White Plains Road BID serves as a positive example of how landlords, merchants, and the community can work together to make urban commercial areas work despite competition from shopping malls with more parking.

“We need to engage our landlords who we know can be helpful in what types of businesses are coming into an area,” Rivera said. “I know that most of you here have been engaged in the struggle for decades.”

Rivera stated there were a number of programs she was sponsoring or planning to sponsor using capital funds to benefit the White Plains Road area. She is already working with Ready, Willing, & Able and CitySolve, two groups that remove graffiti and garbage from commercial corridors in the Bronx.

“For the past four years, I have been funding Ready, Willing, & Able on White Plains Road to keep it clean,” Rivera said. “I have dedicated capital dollars for a graffiti removal truck that could remove graffiti 24 hours a day and seven days a week, weather permitting. We are working with CitySolve to identify two individuals who know how to work the power washing equipment for the truck.”

Perhaps the greatest asset to the White Plains Road BID is that it is located in a busy mass transportation hub.

“Mass transportation is going to be an important factor to the continual success of the shopping strip,” said White Plains Road BID executive director Larry Prospect. “We are a transportation hub with two and a half million [metro-card] swipes at the Pelham Parkway station last year. The Bronx #14 bus is the fourth most-used in the city.”

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