Hudson Yards BID Hopes to be Fully Operational by Mid-2014
BY SAM SPOKONY | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JAN. 7, 2014 | In one of his final acts as the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg on December 30 signed the Hudson Yards Business Improvement District (BID) into law.
Now, those who have spent over a year planning and pushing for the BID — which covers more than 450 businesses between West 30th Street and West 42nd Street, and from Ninth Avenue to the east side of 11th Avenue — hope to have it fully operational in around six months.
“Mid-2014 is certainly an aggressive timeline, but I’m confident in our group,” said Joshua Bernstein, a co-chair of the Hudson Yards BID Steering Committee, and a West 37th Street resident. “People involved in this really want to make it work, and they want to see that our new park is properly cared for.”
Bernstein was referring to the new Hudson Park & Boulevard — a four-acre, tree-lined swath of open space that will run from West 33rd Street to West 39th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, and which is currently under construction by the Hudson Yards Development Corporation. Phase One of the park’s construction — between 33rd and 37th Streets — is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, and will include two entrances to the new No. 7 subway extension.
In addition to providing typical advocacy and sanitation services to local businesses, one of the BID’s primary missions will be to maintain that park, which many believe will bring new, green life to an area that has played host to major development — including Hudson Yards itself — in recent years.
The BID, which itself will be operated by a newly formed nonprofit organization called the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, has a budget of $1.2 million for its first year of operation.
Nearly $450,000 of that will be devoted to Hudson Park maintenance and safety, while $430,000 will go towards district-wide services like pedestrian safety and sanitation, and $325,000 will pay for local advocacy and administrative costs, according to the BID’s approved plan.
That budget will be — as with all of the city’s 69 BIDs — funded primarily by new taxes levied on area property owners. And almost the entire $1.2 million budget will be funded by payments from a group of owners who make up slightly less than 20 percent of the BID’s 1,164 total tax lots.
Those major contributors are owners of commercial or mixed use properties, residential properties built after the area’s rezoning in 2005, and those who own vacant, undeveloped land in the district. Nearly half of those 226 tax lots will pay the BID less than $1,000 per year, but many will pay significantly more, with around 10 percent of the owners shelling out more than $10,000 per year, according to figures put out by the BID.
The remaining tax lots — made up of individual residential condo owners, non-profit organizations and owners of residential buildings constructed before 2005 — will pay a symbolic $1 per year to the BID, and residential tenants will not face any new tax.
And now that the details have all been finalized, and the (former) Mayor’s signature has been secured, the new challenge for BID planners is shifting their outreach efforts towards starting up the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance on that aggressive mid-2014 timeline.
Bernstein said that postcards and emails are being sent out to invite property owners and other stakeholders to submit their names for consideration to serve on the Alliance’s interim board of directors. He hopes to have the interim board installed by the end of February, after which that board will accomplish key initial tasks such as finding a permanent office for the Alliance and hiring its executive director.
The 29-member interim board will be comprised of a 15-member majority group of the higher-taxed commercial, mixed-use and residential property owners, and a 14-member minority group that will include commercial and residential tenants, Community Board 4 members and representatives of local elected officials.
Considering that the process of putting together that board and then hiring a staff may take longer than expected, Bernstein explained that even if it’s not possible to get the BID’s Alliance up and running within six months, he and other steering committee members will be happy if it’s at least operational by the end of the year, when Phase One of Hudson Park & Boulevard is scheduled to be complete.
And since Phase Two of the new park — which will bring it up from West 37th to West 39th Street — does not yet have any funding, Bernstein said the Alliance will further devote some of its advocacy resources towards helping to get those efforts underway.
“[The Alliance] is going to lobby aggressively for the funding for Phase Two, because that’s also going to be one of our key goals for the future,” said Bernstein.