Will A New BID For Bay Ridge Bring It Back The Way It Was?

BID Supporter Chip Cafiero speaks during public comment section. Ben Verde/Bklyner

A proposed Third Avenue Business Improvement District is proving to be a hard sell to Bay Ridge merchants and building owners.

During a public hearing Thursday night, BID supporters took a grilling from skeptical business owners, many of whom said the proposed fees were unnecessary, and did not trust that the agreed-upon fees would not be raised. James Ellis, a consultant hired by BID supporters, got into several spats with attendees, at one point telling a woman he was exchanging words with she “could leave” if she was done speaking.

“I’m involved in several bids,” said Anthony Pennachio, a property owner on Third Avenue. “Every one of them asks for two or three hundred thousand more because the minimum wage goes up, the insurance goes up, everything goes up.”

Supporters of the BID are asking for $560,000 for the first year. If approved, the funds would go towards advocacy, sanitation, marketing and events along the corridor, as well as holiday lights. On top of a $200 base fee, businesses would pay a price that would be determined after an appraisal of their storefront or office. The proposed district would run from Senator Street to Ocean Avenue, a 30 block stretch that would be the largest BID in Brooklyn if approved, according to BID supporters.

There is a BID in place along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, as well as in Sunset Park and Park Slope. A representative for the Park Slope BID spoke at the meeting in support of the proposal, and confirmed that their fees often rise annually.

Some business owners said the added costs would be too much of a burden, and could worsen the storefront vacancy issues currently plaguing the neighborhood.

“The physicians are dying in Bay Ridge, they’re getting killed,” said Dr. Lisa Eng, a representative of the Bay Ridge Medical Society. “We cannot afford another penny, your doctors are leaving.”

Residents who supported the BID said the proposal would provide essential services that would be even more needed once the leading figures of the existing business-boosting group, the Third Avenue Merchants Association, retired. Some longtime neighbors said the corridor had become run-down compared to how they remembered it after a 1980’s revitalization and the BID would present an opportunity to restore it.

“I tell my kids about what it was like back then, it was restaurants, there were bars, there were shops, it was so much fun to be there,” said one business owner. “It’s come down, the last 10, 12 years. It’s not the same as it was then, and I think this is our last chance to bring it back to the way it was.”

Bay Ridge resident Marc Hibsher said BID skeptics were being shortsighted, and not thinking of a future without the Merchants Association.

“One thing I’m feeling is that people are looking at today’s date, and we’re in the midst of summer stroll and all the stuff that’s going on,” Hibsher said. “Are you guys thinking about 2021? 2022? Chip [Cafiero]’s not doing this, Bob [Howe]’s not doing this… What are your thoughts three years from now?”

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Ben Verde

Ben Verde is a freelance reporter and third generation New Yorker. His work has also been in the Brooklyn Paper and Streetsblog NYC.


  1. Ben – thank you for being there and reporting honestly. I guess I should explain when i say doctors are “dying out there”. figuratively of course. We are fighting large hospital systems competing with us, buying up practices and then closing them to eliminate competition. They replace trusted physicians that live in the community and care for our neighbors with recent graduates groomed in their image. We fight the mayor’s tripling of property tax, we fight the fines, tickets, penalties with our small business neighbors. We live among homeless, alcoholics, marijuana smoking on our streets, in front of our children and elderly – and our police have their hands tied by the Mayor and local elected officials do nothing. They have to remember all politics are local at the time of elections. We will remember their silence. We will remember their support of a BID that wants 560k with almost half going to salaries, overhead and consultants. That’s almost 45K a month. I understand the goal to keep 3rd thriving and safe. Find a different way.

  2. The 3rd ave merchant association has, as of today, locked my comments to be reviewed – they took public money, this is a public forum, they want to silence the dissent – WHAT ARE THEY AFRAID OF!
    Make it known, get the word out – WE THE PEOPLE OF 3RD AVE WILL – NOT BE SILENCED – we want our voices heard!

    We the people of 3rd ave – demand that PERCH group be immediately fired for its unprofessional bullying of our fellow 3rd ave residents and REFUND the $36,000 of our tax payer money they received
    We the people of 3rd ave – want to know the EXACT amount of money PERCH has received and how much they will be charging us – we have asked for a long time with no answers – we want to see publically their entire contract
    We the people of 3rd ave – request the steering committee disband for their support of the PERCH group continued bullying tactics – their silence is their support!
    We the people of 3rd ave – request the ENTIRE steering committee formally; in writing and on social media APOLOGIZE to the merchant who was publically embarrassed and to all of us for such bullying unprofessional behavior.
    We the people of 3rd ave – request councilman Brannon publically denounce the PERCH group and the BID steering committee for their bullying behavior AGAINST his VOTING constituents.

  3. The 3rd Ave BID is a Secret Society that pretends to work in the best interest of all – this is the most dangerous type of group.
    For success – it is important ALWAYS to hear both sides in order to get to the middle – a collaboration, a consensus and full transparency if required.
    If this is how collaborative Perch and the steering committee of the proposed 3rd Ave BID will be – it will not get better after they are put into power. If past is predictive of future…
    “You can leave” was the bullying taunt by James Ellis, the consultant from the PERCH group – firm paid to create a BID on 3rd ave.
    He got into several spats with attendees, annoyed by questions from small business owners when asked for DETAILS regarding where the money was coming from and where it would be going.
    The PERCH group with secret planning meetings that were not advertised openly to ALL business & property owners, tenants – open only to inner circle of supporters. Council member Justin Brannon even gave them $36,000 to get them started.
    He should have considered a line item in the budget for Third Ave Merchants to cover the special events that have been cornerstones of our neighborhood. I don’t remember being asked or informed of this.
    If this is how they treat our fellow Bay Ridge 3rd Ave residents now, imagine after they form a BID and get our money!
    They don’t want to call it a tax but it will behave like one and you will be REQUIRED to pay it – otherwise a lien will be put on your property and it is collected exactly like a tax.

  4. My only question is if Mr. Pennacchio offered on one more than one occasion to step into the current administration’s shoes why is he not being provided that opportunity? Clearly having him even try would be much less than what this current BID proposal is even asking for. Sounds like a $560,000 taxing experiment. With no cap on future “assessments “!!!!! Let’s call it what it really is a TAX!

  5. I would’ve liked to be there at the meeting! These guys are thinking about 20121-2023 but most of these merchants will not be there do to all these fees and taxes!!! More fees and more fees come on enough with the city tax increases that us causing higher rents and higher rents that drives everyone out and make landlords suffer with empty storefronts and apartments.

  6. Councilman Brannon respectfully requested a meeting with myself. I have called his office for a date. I wish all apposed to please come with me to show support – remember this is not personal against anyone ONLY the concept of the 3rd ave BID taxing us FOREVER. We again request the president of the 3rd ave merchants to step down and allow US to run the organization and make 3rd ave great again WITHOUT a TAX on us that we can NEVER remove – the president of teh association and the BID steering cvommitte silence on this is deafening.

  7. Word on the “street” in our tight knit community of 3rd ave bay ridge is that because MANY are opposed to the BID tax the merchant association wants to stick us all with, the merchant association now want to STOP the strolls and festivals – very spiteful of them – more bullying tactics – we all say – “DO IT” remove the lights from my buildings! The people in charge of the merchant association and now a BID formation say they care about us and are doing this for OUR benefit – unless you don’t agree with them – than their true spiteful arrogant self absorbed bullying nature is revealed – we all say: step down from the association turn it over to us – what are you afraid of? we will be successful when you are not?

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