After four years as the head of 5th Avenue’s Business Improvement District, Executive Director Irene LoRe retired earlier this summer, paving the way for longtime member Mark Caserta to take the helm.
The BID’s summer programs, which include the South Slope Summer Strolls and Dancing Under the Stars, are off and running, leaving Mark little time to look beyond August, but he assured us that he has a number of ideas in store for the future of 5th Avenue.
“We’re starting a strategic planning process,” he told us, “to look at the last four years with the merchants and the property owners to see what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, and what should we be doing.”
One big change is the BID’s decision to move events beyond the JJ Byrne Playground area.
“We had a lot of events centered on the park because it was an easy thing to do,” said Mark. “If we have an event, let’s just put it in the park and people can come from both sides of the Slope, but the truth is, like any New York City neighborhood, people don’t walk far from home, and we found that we need to do more in the South and more in the North to have events that directly affect businesses nearby.
“I’ve been going door to door a lot, and I’m finding that a lot of people are excited about the events,” he added, “and they’re really engaged with the BID, which is great. There’s others who are interested in what we’re doing, and just want to get some information, and there are others who just want to sit back and watch. The idea for the future is to get more people engaged.”
In addition to engaging local merchants, the BID hopes to share some of the amazing shopping gems that we have on our avenue with neighbors who might not be in the know.
“I’d like to find ways to highlight the vintage shops,” Mark said. “I love the fact that there are so many bars and restaurants, but I would like people to look at 5th Avenue as a place to shop more than they are currently.
“It’s my hope,” he continued, “that the Summer Strolls program will attract some revelers to stop by, have a beer outside of a bar and say, ‘Wow, there’s a store over there that has some cool clothing that I’d love to check out.'”
Businesses near the Barclays Center are also on the BID’s radar.
“While there has been some improvement for businesses down by the arena, it has not been even,” explained Mark. “We’re also trying to find a way to bring people from the arena to the avenue on a regular basis. That’s definitely a priority.”
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the BID in the coming months, but it definitely appears that the future of 5th is headed in the right direction.