SUNSET PARK — From Red Hook to the Rockaways, a dozen New York City neighborhoods were declared "in need of revitalization" by the boroughs' five chambers of commerce, which together won a six-figure grant to build business-improvement associations in all 12 communities.
The money, a $200,000 grant from the TD Bank Group and TD Charitable Foundation, will help launch a Citywide Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Project, which will distribute seed money for creating merchants' groups, beautification projects and shop-local campaigns in "underserved…low- and middle-income areas," officials said, as well as those severely affected by Hurricane Sandy.
"The neighborhoods that were affected by the storm that had organized merchants' associations really were able to quickly rebuild. The ones that don't have organized merchants' associations are still suffering," said Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which received the grant on behalf of all five chambers.
The entrepreneurship project will focus on the following areas:
- Fourth Avenue, from Atlantic Avenue to 65th Street
- Nostrand Avenue, from Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway
- Red Hook
- Sheepshead Bay, notably Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue
- City Island
- East Tremont Avenue, from Third Avenue to Arthur Avenue
- Second Avenue, from 68th Street to 98th Street
- Lower East Side, along avenues A, B, C and D from Delancey Street to 14th Street
- Rockaway Peninsula
- Roosevelt Avenue, from 82nd Street to 114th Street
- Midland Beach
- South Beach
Local merchants and community leaders said they welcomed the outreach efforts, which represent an expansion of similar programs the Brooklyn chamber launched in 2009.
Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, for example, "is something that we have been working on," said Community Board 7 District Manger Jeremy Laufer, referring to a Department of Transportation project last fall that expanded a median along the thoroughfare, which runs through the center of Sunset Park's main commercial districts.
Further improvements, Laufer said, could include "adding new trees and branches and public amenities. I would very much like to see plantings and public artworks along the median. But I'd also like to see some additional safety improvements, including heavy bollards to protect the pedestrians."
The first checks are expected to be distributed next month, officials stated.
"This has never been done before, where you have five chambers from five different boroughs coming together to determine how best to serve the communities," said Robert Walsh, commissioner of the city's Department of Small Business Services. Building more business groups in the Big Apple, he continued, is critical for helping the city recover from Sandy.
"We got to dig in. We got to get our business district organizations doing more."