The New York City Council yesterday voted to approve legislation that will expand the boundaries of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) as of January 1, 2022.
The expansion will nearly double the size of the BID, bringing the Partnership’s supplemental sanitation and safety services, homeless outreach, public space management and beautification, marketing, business support, and advocacy to a larger footprint that will include 20th Street, the Sixth Avenue gateway to the district, and more of NoMad.
Map of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID, with the original BID boundaries (orange) and the expansion areas for 2022 (blue).
Since its inception in 2006, the Partnership has served Flatiron and the southern part of NoMad. Increasingly, business owners, property owners, and residents just outside of the BID’s original boundaries have expressed a need for BID services on their blocks. As the district and surrounding areas have evolved, the need has grown for broader public realm services and enhancements, districtwide promotions and advocacy, and a more cohesive neighborhood identity.
“For 15 years, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership has helped cement the reputation of Flatiron and NoMad as two of New York City’s most vital and exiting neighborhoods and now we look forward to having the same impact in an expanded footprint,” said James Mettham, executive director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.
“Our new stakeholders can look forward to cleaner streets, more inviting public spaces, and more support for small businesses. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, in particular Speaker Corey Johnson and Members Carlina Rivera and Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Community Boards 4 and 5 for their support of our BID expansion.”
“The work of BIDs across the city is more important than ever as we help businesses and neighborhoods recover from the pandemic and adapt to post-pandemic life,” Mettham added. “We are committed to ensuring that the new areas of our BID – and every block in Flatiron and NoMad – are special places that make people want to live, work, visit, and play here in the heart of Manhattan.”
The areas joining the BID include 1,384 properties, 344 of which are commercial; more than 20 existing or under-construction hotels; a diverse array of retail and dining; a plethora of cultural destinations and historic sites; a growing residential community; and the dynamic Sixth Avenue mixed-use corridor.
The City Council’s approval of the BID’s expansion follows four years of planning and stakeholder engagement by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership in close coordination with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and a thorough public review process that was temporarily delayed by the COVID pandemic. The expansion plan has been widely embraced by neighborhood stakeholders.
“Congratulations to the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership on their concerted effort to make this expansion possible. It has been a pleasure working with the Flatiron Partnership and Steering Committee over the last few years to help them realize this expansion. I am very proud of the City Council’s vote today to expand the boundaries of the BID, which will ensure important services can be provided to the local businesses and residential community who call Flatiron home,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“The Flatiron Partnership has been a lifeline to small businesses across the neighborhood, and this expansion extends critical services to where they are needed the most,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “SBS works hard to provide all expansion efforts with resources to ensure they can reach deeply into their communities and engage everyone in the process. I applaud our partners in this effort, we are excited to continue working together to see services on the ground in this expansion area.”
“We are grateful for this vote of confidence from our neighborhood stakeholders. We look forward to bringing our expertise to a larger territory in this vibrant part of New York City,” said Michael T. Cohen, President of the Tri-State Region at Colliers International and Chairman of the Board of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.
“Our restaurant is just outside the current BID boundaries, so we see the impact of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s cleaning, maintenance, and beautification services nearby, and we are excited to see them transform our block and 6th Avenue around the corner. The Partnership will be instrumental in cultivating safer, more inviting surroundings to welcome much-needed foot traffic back to our neighborhood, which will help to keep us, and other ground-floor shops, open for business post-COVID,” said Hersh Narola, owner of Bombay Sandwich Co., located at 48 West 27th Street.
“The BID’s expansion covers an area at the nexus of Flatiron, NoMad, and Midtown South which strains under the burden of the need for increased sanitation, homeless outreach, and advocacy. The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership will improve the streetscape, make residents and visitors safer, and help connect unhoused New Yorkers with the services they need,” said Jordan Barowitz, Vice President of Public Affairs at The Durst Organization, which owns 855 Avenue of the Americas in the BID expansion area.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s staff has been on the streets every day, responding to stakeholders’ evolving needs and helping to ensure that public spaces have remained safe, clean, and beautiful. Since May 2020, the Partnership has managed the City’s Open Streets program in Flatiron and NoMad, opening the roadbed on stretches of Broadway, 20th Street, 22nd Street, and 28th Street to pedestrians and cyclists for greater social distancing. Additionally, the Partnership has worked with local restaurants on outdoor dining on sidewalks and streets through the City’s Open Restaurants program.
This summer, the Partnership collaborated with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to create the new Flatiron Slow Street, which has transformed Broadway between 21st Street and 23rd Street into a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly thoroughfare. The project is part of the Partnership’s long-term vision of a pedestrian-focused Broadway corridor through Flatiron and NoMad, which has also included the construction of the Flatiron Public Plazas in 2009 and Manhattan’s first Shared Street, from 24th to 25th Street, which was unveiled in 2017.
While the pandemic greatly reduced the number of commuters and tourists coming to Manhattan’s central business districts, momentum toward recovery continues to build. Pedestrian volumes in the Flatiron Public Plazas were up 80 percent by the end of June 2021, compared with June 2020. Both ground-floor retail leasing and commercial office leasing increased in Q2 2021. More than 60 new businesses have opened – or announced plans to open – in the district since July 2020.
The New York City Department of Small Business Services oversees the city’s BID program. A BID is a nonprofit organization made up of property owners and commercial tenants who are dedicated to promoting economic development and improving an area’s quality of life. There are 76 BIDs operating in New York City that invest over $170.5 million to serve 93,000 businesses in all five boroughs and maintain 152 public spaces.