To promote the fact that Graham Avenue, Avenue of Puerto Rico, is the largest, uniquely affordable, and growing shopping area in Williamsburg. The BID supports its growth by encouraging new stores and restaurants to locate here in a concerted effort to expand its customer base for the existing businesses and community at large. The BID works to have the existing and new businesses understand and meet the needs of the BID’s current and changing shopper base. It also works to preserve and share its rich Latino culture with the rest of the city.
Daily ways we work to accomplish this:
The BID continues to develop its website to provide new resources to a technically challenged area, the creation of a free wifi retail environ, a virtual signage concept, holiday banners, enhanced lighting, development of our farmers market on Cook Street providing youth employment opportunities, a global planting project we introduced through the Growing Connection at PS 257…run by the United Nations and coordinated through the Cornell Extension, marketing and advertising strategies, graffiti removal, power washing of the streets, security cameras, increased safety through discussion with our local Precinct, on going 7 days-a-week sanitation program using the DOE Fund…which provides training to the formerly homeless, community outreach and city-wide visibility with an annual fiesta, holiday lights, Holiday Trolley, holiday events for area children, food raffle coupons for seniors, scholarships, and other events including a proposed Art N’ Shop program, annual sidewalk sale days; senior, local employee and religious institute discounts and ad programs, evening shopping promotion, and a commitment to encourage alternative energy resources.
Our vision is based on several basic concepts including our support to the growth, cultural preservation, expanded diversity and retail potential of the Moore Street Market.
WE ARE NOT YOUR TYPICAL MAIN STREET
- Our vision is not to be like every other main street…old fashioned lights, cobblestone, etc. We support and share the Latino flavor of our neighborhood by highlighting the cultural character of the community including music, dance, food and festive events.
- Because Graham Avenue is also known as the “Avenue of Puerto Rico” we encourage the Latino flavor in the design of the storefronts to make this a business community where shoppers and tourists will visit to take advantage of our local bargains in a festive, welcoming atmosphere.
- We encourage good restaurants to locate in our shopping district and make it a full day destination.
- Our shopper base of Hispanic, African American, Polish, and Hassidic, remains, but we also see an influx of the new, young, trendy artists coming into the area. How can we meet their shopping needs? How can we benefit from their presence? This is a critical question and one that the businesses must address and the BID aims to make the transition smooth and profitable. Through the use of common denominators such as music, the arts and food we will try and bridge gaps and integrate ideas for our ethnicly mixed shopper base.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY/GEWW DRIVEN RETAIL AREA
- Our business community was nearly destroyed because of the 1970’s black out and the fires and looting that resulted. The area has been rebuilt, but it still needs to move forward. We feel our businesses/property owners need a solution to reduce energy costs in order to drive down prices in a rising economy.
- We want our property owners and businesses to work to incorporate alternative energy solutions into this retail area. By working together, this can be accomplished at a reduced rate while providing a cost effective future.
- This effort will stand as a commitment to continue to do business here because the current returns on alternative energy are long term.
- We want to be the example of the first green empowered retail community and where else does the sun shine so brightly…but in an area that is part of our namesake…Puerto Rico.
Without retaining the most appropriate affordable parking it is difficult to encourage larger retail chains to locate here. The BID is surrounded by public housing and is constantly fighting an old perception of being a crime ridden area. While we know this is not true and work to make it a pleasant shopping community…people who do not know this area are hesitant to shop here. We need to draw shoppers beyond the borders of our local residences to encourage profitable growth. We want to encourage the use of public transit and also provide bike safety and parking for our new and current neighbors.
A COMMITMENT TO CLEAN, SAFE STREETS:
The BID remains diligent in keeping our streets clean and welcoming for shoppers and new businesses that wish to relocate here.
- Educational outreach…to help people realize that garbage in the streets is an open invitation to rat infestation.
- Develop pride in the neighborhood…programs that encourage local clean up efforts and emphasize the fact that only by everyone (businesses and residents) working together can positive change happen.
- Through the use of community notice boards we hope to end illegal postings on the front of our stores and street furniture. We have planned a campaign and outreach to the Latino clubs that encourage these illegal postings. We will invite them to use the bulletin boards which will serve as an information source for the community at large.
- To work with the Police and Sanitation to get their support as problems arise and to make them aware of existing problems and possible solutions.
This work is ongoing…constant and as it becomes more visible “they will come.”
A COMMITMENT TO HAVE THE CITY CORRECT THE EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEMS IN THIS COMMERCIAL DISTRICT
- The BID is working to have the city correct the failing infrastructure including improper drainage, cracked sidewalks, handicapped ramps, sidewalks where meters, poles, water covers and bus shelters were poorly installed.
- The flooding is a major concern which we feel must be corrected in order to encourage property owners to invest in their buildings. Presently the burden of making capital improvements to the building is left to the business owner who rents. We want the building owners to realize the buildings must be maintained in order to retain good businesses which turn a profit and can in turn maintain high income rentals. The affect of new construction on the already stressed infrastructure is also a concern.
THE BID IS COMMITTED TO IMPROVING THE FACADES ALONG GRAHAM AVENUE AND THE SIDE STREETS and TO PREPARE FOR A CHANGING CUSTOMER BASE
- Besides funding from our annual assessment, we are seeking grant money and continue to apply for funds for needed improvements.
- Additional funds could create seed money for merchants/property owners who wish to improve their storefronts, not to correct existing violations.
- To meet the changing needs of the new customer base moving into the area, the store fronts need to be changed.
- Merchants must meet with consultants to understand how they can either change or adjust their merchandise to be successful with the changes being experienced in this area.
- The BID will also work with local colleges to do surveys and outreach to make this happen.
- Our vision, a new look for our new and existing customer base.
What is needed to obtain these goals?
- Funding and support by our local, state and federal elected representatives and city officials.
- Having property owners take a more proactive stand on the retail area
- Having the merchants commit to these goals
- Having the support of the city’s Economic Development and be included in their plan