Along with the "Broken Windows" crime prevention theory, one of the big success stories of Gotham's dramatic revitalization over the past two decades has been the BID (that's Business Improvement District, FYI) where business and property owners in a designated area work with the City and make a collective effort to boost business. The most famous BID success is probably Times Square, but they're all over the place nowadays (of the 53 BIDs in New York State there are 45 in NYC), and often are quite successful. Which is why this article on the Village Alliance BID in this week's Villager is so interesting: Efforts to revitalize West Eighth Street have been an unmitigated disaster:
As anyone who has recently walked down Eighth St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. can’t help but notice, the block resembles a retail ghost town, as if the Great Depression had hit all over again. Virtually every other store is vacant, with For Rent signs prominently posted. In all, about 20 stores were empty when a reporter walked the street two weekends ago. On Sixth Ave., the former Sam Goody space, also in the BID’s district, is vacant.
Reasons for the blocks downturn in fortunes - West Eighth used to be a serious destination back in the day - are numerous and range from small retail spaces (the average store ranges from 500-1,500 square feet) selling things nobody wants ("look at the shoes they sell here — high-heeled, with sequins. Who wears those?”) to too many bikers enjoying their hot dogs from Grey's Papaya. Not to mention poor management of the district by Village Alliance Executive Director Honi Klein. Whatever the reason for the downturn its impossible to walk down West Eighth and deny its existence. So now that its out in the open and up for discussion we turn to you, our esteemed readers. How would you fix West Eighth Street?
Detail from a photograph by Gary He for the Villager.