5.Explore the creation of an Industrial Business Improvement District
Fostering the Manufacturing Sector > Recommendations
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a specially designated commercial area that is managed by a nonprofit organization that derives its funding from a special tax assessment placed on each of the district’s property owners. An Industrial BID (IBID) builds on the concept of a commercial BID but with important distinctions. Instead of striving to attract more shoppers into the district, its goals are to preserve the industrial nature of an area by retaining industrial tenants, providing services beneficial to industrial businesses, and helping them improve their competitiveness. For example, an IBID in Gowanus could serve as a hub of information, communication, and coordination for local firms, makers, and working artists that facilitates doing business locally. The IBID might also play a critical role in helping existing and potential tenants identify space, both as renters from property owners and also as sub-letters from other tenants. It might also play a critical role in enforcing zoning by either undertaking or funding cyclical building inspections and reporting illegal conversions to the City’s Department of Buildings. Finally, it could also improve firms’ financial viability by helping them tap into their collective power, such as facilitating cost-sharing among a group of businesses for infrastructure improvements and/or health insurance.
Despite all the potential benefits of an Industrial BID, there are several important considerations to address. These include the potential for industrial rents to increase as property owners seek to have their tenants cover the cost of the special assessment and the potential for inequity in the BID’s governing structure since the traditional BID board structure often grants little power to tenants. Friends of Community Board 6 has received discretionary funding to issue a feasibility study for the creation of an IBID in Gowanus, and the existing IBZ service provider, Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) should also play a key role in developing any IBID initiative for the area.