Cobble Hill Business Owners Band Together in Face of Rising Rents

By Nikhita Venugopal on April 14, 2014 7:50am 

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 Small business merchants and property owners are hoping to start their own Business Improvement District for businesses along Smith and Court Streets.
Smith and Court Streets BID
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COBBLE HILL — Merchants on Court and Smith streets are banding together to draw more business to the area so that they can afford the neighborhood's rapidly rising rents.

The Court & Smith Street Business Improvement District (BID), which a group of business and property owners hope to launch next year, would bring extra sanitation, public safety and marketing services to Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens, in the hope of boosting local shops and restaurants.

A steering committee made up of people who own buildings and small businesses on Court and Smith streets began discussing a possible BID almost a decade ago and recently ramped up efforts to make it happen, said Patrick Watson, the committee chairman and owner of Stinky Bklyn on Smith Street.

“A lot of the merchants and commercial tenants are not doing as well as you’d think,” he said.

In the past five years, rents have more than tripled for some storefronts on a stretch of Court Street near Atlantic Avenue, according to study from leasing firm CPEX, Crain’s New York Business reported last week.

The BID hopes to drive more foot traffic to the area to make up for those rent increases, Watson said.

J. Crew and a private preschool have inked leases in the area, joining Trader Joe’s, Barneys New York and W.P. Lavori, an Italian clothing company.

“It’s gotten so popular that we’re at a dangerous threshold,” Watson said.

The BID's work would include participating in city and state advocacy initiatives; maintenance, sanitation and public safety plans; tourism and marketing services; assistance programs for locals and greening initiatives, according to its website.

Last December, neither Court Street nor Smith Street had holiday lights, something Watson hopes to rectify through the new BID.

“Unless it's collective and it’s everyone, it’s no one,” he said.

The committee has launched an online fundraising campaign to help support its work before it submits the BID’s application for city approval.

“It’s really about involving the community and the whole concept about what local means,” Watson said.

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