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College Point Business Improvement District in the works

By Madina Toure

The College Point Board of Trade and City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) are working together on plans to create a College Point Business Improvement District.

For the past two months, Tom Palma of the College Point Board of Trade has had discussions with Vallone, as well as with the city Department of Small Business Services and small businesses in the neighborhood.

They are currently trying to determine who owns the buildings along College Point Boulevard from 14th Avenue to about 25th Avenue.

Palma said the BID will be beneficial for the neighborhood, which he said is considered to be “small-town USA.”

“The BID gives the district the opportunity to act together in unison and to try to promote more business,” he said.

There are now 72 business improvement districts in the five boroughs signed into law, with 12 of them in Queens, according to the Department of Small Business Services. A BID is a public/private partnership in which property and business owners choose to make a collective contribution to the maintenance, development and promotion of their commercial district.

Supplemental services typically include sanitation and maintenance, business development, beautification, capital improvements, public safety and hospitality, among other services. Services are funded by a special assessment paid by property owners within the district.

“This has to be approved by the people, the group of people who are designated in the BID, and it’s usually around a dozen people, whether they be our elected officials or our property owners themselves,” Palma said.

The Department of Small Business Services said it had an initial meeting with Vallone and Palma in December.

“Working with the Bayside Village BID to revitalize Bell Boulevard, growing and expanding the Douglaston LDC, creating the Whitestone Merchants Association and now supporting the College Point Board of Trade are all critical for the growth of our district,” Vallone said in a statement. Established in 1969, the College Point Board of Trade, located at 14-15 College Point Blvd., is an action-oriented business organization whose members include manufacturing, industrial and contracting firms and retail merchants that work to foster good trade and commerce and promote growth of College Point businesses and the residential community.

When the organization started, local businesses in the area were thriving, Palma said, noting that at one time the organization had nearly 400 members, but the roster has since dropped to its current membership of 125.

He said there has been a change of demographics in the area, with more businesses owned by Asian and Hispanic individuals.

“At this point of time, we’ve lost a lot of our retail stores,” he said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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