Printer Friendly Email a Friend Translate this Page Newsletter Sign-Up Text Size: Sm Med Lg
NYC Small Business Services
Press Release

Printer Version Printer Friendly Format

Friday, December 7, 2012


Deputy Mayor Steel and Small Business Services Commissioner Walsh Announce Winners of the Bid Challenge

New York City – Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel and Small Business Services Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today announced the seven winners of the BID Challenge. Launched in June, BID Challenge is a competitive grant initiative that provides more than $250,000 in seed funding for the most innovative neighborhood improvement proposals in Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across New York City. The program awards up to $75,000 to BIDs with annual assessment budgets under $1 million. Successful initiatives will be rolled out across the City, as appropriate. The 23 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) formed during the Bloomberg Administration— 20 of which are located outside of Manhattan— is the highest number created under a single administration. BIDs help make neighborhoods more inviting to businesses and residents and support economic activity and job creation, and currently invest more than $100 million every year in safety, sanitation and business attraction. BID Challenge is designed to encourage the City’s 67 BIDs to strengthen their neighborhoods and attract more jobs and investment through creative and innovative initiatives.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, supporting neighborhood small businesses is more important than ever,” Deputy Mayor Steel said. “Under Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration, BIDs have helped strengthen and revitalize neighborhoods across all five boroughs, and with the winners of the BID Challenge we are excited to see the deployment of seven new innovative programs that could be deployed City-wide to create jobs and attract new business to neighborhood commercial corridors.”

“New York City’s neighborhoods are not only diverse and vibrant, but also resilient,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Whether neighborhoods are cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy, or addressing challenges of crime, sanitation, or attracting business, BID Challenge encourages Business Improvement Districts across the City to go even further with creative and innovative solutions. I congratulate the winners of the BID Challenge, and also encourage other neighborhoods who submitted proposals to implement your plans and help strengthen neighborhoods.”  

“Through their BID Challenge proposals, Business Improvement Districts across the City demonstrated their comprehensive and unique understanding of their individual neighborhoods, as well as an incredible capacity for determined ingenuity,” said Jonathan Fanton, Franklin D. Roosevelt Visiting Fellow at Hunter College, Chair of the BID Challenge Selection Committee and former Chair of the Union Square Partnership. “The Roosevelt House at Hunter College is proud to partner with the City of New York's BID Challenge, keeping in Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt tradition of creative community development and perseverance through challenges.” 

The seven winning BIDs and their proposed projects include:


HUB – 3 Ave BID

Monrovia, South Bronx

The HUB - 3rd Avenue BID, with the support of local partners, will conduct a multi-stage comprehensive study on the activation/revitalization of upper floor vacancies throughout the HUB. Upon completion, the BID will create a final report to be distributed and marketed to property owners, encouraging the development/retrofitting of upper floors to reverse blight in resurgent urban areas. The final report will outline the methodologies, challenges and successes of activating underutilized upper floor spaces in the HUB, which can be shared in other commercial corridors that face this challenge.

Southern Boulevard BID

Hunts Point, South Bronx

Over half of the small businesses in the Southern Boulevard BID in the Bronx are independently owned and do not advertise electronically due to limited resources. The BID would like to make its commercial corridor more regionally competitive by working proactively with its merchants to embrace digital marketing methods. The BID will develop a pilot Digital Marketing Program designed to demonstrate the vital role that internet merchandizing can play in the survival and growth of small businesses, and provide technical training and website design services for ten independently owned retail stores or businesses. The creation of individual websites will provide the BID with a more direct way to generate and monitor potential new customers for each store.

Fordham Road BID


Fordham Plaza is located at the entrance of the third largest shopping district in NYC, and has 80,000 pedestrians pass through every day. But at night it remains empty. The Fordham Road BID is proposing a series of four Movie Nights at Fordham Plaza, known as "Movies at the Plaza," to be shown throughout the summer of 2013.  A marketing campaign to promote the event will be undertaken by BID staff and include banners along Fordham Road highlighting the project at Fordham Plaza, along with both print ads and an online social media and web blitz. The BID will provide the staff to run the movie night and the Sanitation Crew to keep the Plaza clean before, during, and after the events. This is part of a larger BID initiative to expand the BID's boundaries into Fordham Plaza and neighboring commercial properties.


Atlantic Avenue BID

Brooklyn Heights/Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill

The Atlantic Avenue BID will partner with the Design Trust for Public Space to redesign and program the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway underpass to draw pedestrian traffic from the newly completed and popular Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 6. The project, called “Funderpass,” will include a bike service station, seating, lighting improvements, prominent wayfinding signage, and wall murals. The BID has also secured a maintenance partnership with Long Island Hospital to keep the space clean and will create a website that describes the potential to replicate this transformation on similar underpasses citywide.



The DUMBO Improvement District will oversee the implementation of neighborhood projects that will give teams of talented DUMBO community members and entrepreneurs the opportunity to test out new technologies and innovations for the betterment of the district, and provide a platform to demonstrate local talents. Projects considered for implementation include a tour guide/lunch-exchange digital app, an entrepreneur-to-student role models program, an interactive tourist viewfinder public art installation, and an eco-friendly, waste-to-energy community fireplace.


Washington Heights BID

Washington Heights

The Washington Heights BID will build off a partnership with the School of Visual Arts to create a branding initiative for visitors and local residents to explore and experience Northern Manhattan at its best. This marketing initiative, called “Explora,” will highlight the district’s unique fashion, cultural history, Latino food, nightlife, and public spaces. This branding will be illustrated on a daily basis throughout the community via new banners, wayfinding signage, promotional materials, and a launch party. Monthly themed events and initiatives will also provide added exposure and press. Examples include Restaurant Month, Beauty Month, Fashion Month, Back-to-School, and the Holiday Season.


82nd Street Partnership

Jackson Heights/Elmhurst

According to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, 82nd Street in Queens is one of the least compliant commercial corridors in the city when it comes to following historic district storefront rules and guidelines. To address this problem, the Partnership will launch a Storefront Improvement Program that will incentivize its members to upgrade and restore storefronts, and by doing so, significantly enhance the corridor’s sense of place as an historic, diverse, authentic and vibrant destination. This program will provide free design assistance to property owners and commercial tenants who wish to restore their building facades, and it will provide matching grants to build out these storefront improvements.

The winning proposals were selected by the BID Challenge Selection Committee, which included five economic development professionals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Winners were selected based on the project’s vision, implementation plan, neighborhood impact, sustainability and creativity. Members of the Selection Committee include:

Jonathan Fanton (Chair) - Dr. Fanton is currently the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visiting Fellow at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York. Previously, he served as the President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and as the President of the New School for Social Research.

Alair Townsend  - Ms. Townsend served as a Vice President at Crain Communications, Inc. and as publisher of Crain’s New York Business. Previously, she served as the NYC Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development. In addition to these roles, she sits on several boards and acts as a Director at The Partnership for New York City, Inc. and the American Stock Exchange Inc.

David Downey - Mr. Downey serves as the President and C.E.O. of the International Downtown Association (IDA). The IDA serves downtown leaders through researching, collecting and promoting best practices, sponsoring conferences, and recognizing innovative urban projects. Prior to arriving at IDA, David worked with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and served as the Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Planning.

Mathew Wambua - Mr. Wambua was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2011. Prior to that role, Mr. Wambua held senior positions at the NYC Housing Development Corporation, with the NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, and at the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

Sarah Krauss - Ms. Krauss currently serves as Chief of Staff to the Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. Previously, she was the Communications Director for the New York City Office of the Public Advocate. Prior to her time in city government, Ms. Krauss worked at Edelman and served as the Deputy Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

About the Department of Small Business Services
The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) makes it easier for businesses in New York City to start, operate and expand by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, and linking employers to a skilled and qualified workforce. For more information on all of SBS’ services, go to

Merideth Weber (Small Business Services)

    Email a Friend