SE Queens pushes to create an industrial BID for JFK

By Juan Soto

Businesses in the off-airport cargo neighborhood in Springfield Gardens want to create the Greater JFK Industrial Business Improvement District to increase the quality of life of property and company owners, tenants and community organizations in an area with about 8,000 workers.

“We are trying to build consensus and move the proposal forward,” said Barbara Cohen, a member of the consultant team planning the industrial BID. “We need a unified voice to approve” the public-private partnership, she said.

Cohen cited a study in which the Port Authority, the city’s Economic Development Corporation and the JFK IBID Planning Committee call for “a need for dedicated, specific services and improvements to supplement the basic government services” within an off-airport area that is home to about 600 businesses and 154 single-family homes.

The southeast Queens proposed area is accessible by Rockaway Boulevard and it stretches from 184th Street and Rockaway Boulevard to 132nd Avenue and Baisley Boulevard.

The “JFK Air Cargo Study” maintains the “synergy of the on- and off- airport cargo operations demand special attention and effective coordination to ensure a viable future.”

Cohen estimates the JFK IBID could be fully operational by the summer of 2016. Mayor Bill de Blasio could sign the business district into law as early as December 2015.

Kennedy Airport is the biggest employer in the borough.

“The JFK IBID will be a project that invests resources into Queens to help our community thrive,” said state Sen. James sanders (D-South Ozone Park). “This improvement district has a lot of untapped potential that is poised for growth.”

The lawmaker said the city Economic Development Corporation is working hard to establish the district as one that will “lay the groundwork for crucial infrastructure, enabling southeast Queens to thrive as a hub for many businesses and quality jobs.”

According to the consulting team, a survey in the area showed that 63 percent of those who responded would find “beneficial” the creation of the improvement district.

There are currently about 70 Business Improvement District in the city. Two of those are industrial, one located in Jamaica and the other one in Staten Island.

The initial budget for the proposed IBID would be about $500,000, Cohen said. Budget expense priorities include public safety and security, sanitation, snow and graffiti removal, general administration, technical services and industry networking and marketing.

Industrial and commercial property owners will be the primary supporters of the budget, with an estimated assessment cost of 10 cents per square foot. Residential property owners will be assigned a symbolic $1 per year.

Among the key issues the industrial BID will address are truck parking and storage limitations because, according to the promoters of the industrial BID, the heavy vehicles “no longer fit in the loading bays of aging warehouses buildings.”

Supporters of the Greater JKF Industrial Business Improvement District pointed out the situation has led to excessive ticketing and snow removal difficulties.

“In the months ahead, the planning committee is gathering written signatures for both people for the proposed idea and people against it,” Cohen said.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.