This area is roughly 12 blocks long, and is benefits from the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), which was founded in July 1988 to provide services and programs supporting local businesses and create a better shopping experience for the district’s consumers.
There are 340 retail and service establishments within the BID, which also includes some side streets, according to Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID.
Through the BID, businesses receive services that maintain the cleanliness and appearance of the shopping district, such sidewalk sweeping and improvement, snow removal, graffiti removal and more.
Herman Hochberg, owner of Queens Wines and Liquors at 59-03 Myrtle Avenue since 1948, remembers the difference in cleanliness before and after the BID. “We have the cleanest streets,” said Hochberg, who is also the founding chairman of the BID. “Years ago there was debris all over.”
When the BID was newly implemented, they sought federal money for benches, more trees, and new curbs to beautify the area, according to Hochberg. Maintaining those things has been an ongoing role of the BID.
The BID also provides holiday lighting, security through communicating with the 104th Precinct, and marketing and promotions throughout the year.
To receive these services, all property owners pay an assessment. The BID’s budget is $406,000, according to Renz.
He explained how that amount was determined. “Fifty percent of that $406,000 is based on front footage, and the other 50 percent of that budget is based on assessed valuation of the property,” Renz said.
Hochberg recalls how things were prior to the shared commitment that came with the BID.
“Before we had the bid, I used to go around collecting money for the holiday lights and every year it was more difficult, because everyone said let the next guy do it,” he said. “With the BID everyone pays their fair share.”
The BID is currently working on contracting an expert to conduct a study to determine the areas of need within the BID allowing them to improve the services they offer.
Establishments have changed throughout the years, but businesses like Queens Wines and Liquors, Rudy’s Pastries and men’s clothing stores Pants Pantry and Domino Men Shop have been on Myrtle Avenue since before the BID.
The consensus among their owners is that the BID had been a support system and helpful in getting them in touch with the right people when they have a problem or want to get something done.
"I never knew who to contact when I had a problem,” said Richard Brancato, owner of Domino Men Shop at 58-25 Myrtle Avenue. “If you called the city offices, it was just too big to handle my issue. The BID knows the community better,"
Rudy’s Pastries, located at 905 Seneca Avenue, expanded last year to include a cafe.
Owner Antonetta Binanti, also known as Toni, found the BID very supportive in that business leap.
“It was very hard for me, but the BID supported me,” said Binanti, who is also a BID board member. “They guided me and told where to go. They got the assemblywoman and councilwoman on my side so that I could do this.”
They agree that the BID does a lot for the businesses, but it is a collective effort and business owners must take an active role. “I always tell a lot of these storeowners, my neighbors, if you guys need something, you have to call them up,” said Binanti.