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Hudson Yards BID Plan Praised, but Community Leaders Want it Renamed

By Mathew Katz | August 5, 2013 7:23am
  Community Board 4 asked to re-name it   the Hudson Yards/Hell's Kitchen Alliance
New BID Will Support Hudson Yards Park and Hell's Kitchen Infrastructure
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HELL'S KITCHEN — A plan to create a business improvement district in Hudson Yards and Hell's Kitchen got an enthusiastic thumbs up from the local community board — though they weren't quite sold on the name.

Community Board 4 unanimously voted to recommend that the City Planning Commission approve the BID proposal and requested it change its name from the Hudson Yards Business Improvement District to the Hudson Yards/Hell's Kitchen Alliance, to reflect both of the neighborhoods it will eventually serve. 

"The proposed BID would be part of the southern portion of Hell's Kitchen, a fabled neighborhood with a strong sense of identity," the board wrote in its letter to DCP.

"Nearly all the participants in the planning process found the name 'Hudson Yards BID' to be lacking in historical resonance, precision, or distinctiveness. Or, frankly, sizzle."

Under the plan, a total of 1,164 commercial and mixed-use properties, along with vacant land, would be taxed based on their size and property value. The overall fee ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars a year, depending on the property.

Residential properties and nonprofits would be taxed a symbolic $1 a year, but would not have to pay any additional fee to reap the benefits.

"It's not a business-only plan," said Barbara Cohen, a BID consultant who's working with the planning committee and said it would certainly be open to a new name. "Its services and improvements benefit the whole neighborhood."

The district would encompass an area from West 42nd to West 30th streets, between Ninth and 11th avenues.

The BID's $1.2 million budget will go toward maintaining the new Hudson Park and Boulevard, along with improvements to infrastructure in both neighborhoods.

The cash would help create and maintain green space around the neighborhood, improve pedestrian safety in the congested areas around the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Lincoln Tunnel, and help pick up garbage in busy areas.

"We believe the existing Hell's Kitchen neighborhood and its vibrancy can co-exist with the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood," said Kevin Singleton of developer TF Cornerstone, who is a co-chair on the BID planning committee.

According to organizers, much of the money would come from larger developments in the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood, which will eventually be home to soaring skyscrapers. The vast majority of buildings on the eastern edge — around Ninth Avenue — will have to pay less than $1,000 a year.

At the CB4 meeting on Wednesday, an unusually diverse group of supporters praised the plan.

Nancy Diaz, who lives at the Orion Condominium on West 42nd Street, said that tenants in her building supported the plan.

"They've put together a diverse plan that really benefits diverse constituents."

Kathleen Treat, chair of the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, called the plan "a terrific community benefit."

The plan will now move to the City Planning Commission and will eventually need the approval of the City Council.