The city’s 72 business improvement districts, many of which are helmed by some of the biggest names in real estate, spent a total of $127 million in 2015, according to a new report.
The Downtown Alliance, which represents Lower Manhattan, tallied the most expenses at nearly $20 million. Of that sum, a majority was spent on marketing and sanitation services, according to the Small Business Services’ annual BID trend report. SBS oversees the city’s BIDs and releases a report anually based on data provided by the organizations. Only six BIDs spent more than $5 million, and the median expenses for 2015 was $430,780. The 180th Street BID in Queens had the smallest expenses for the year with $52,517.
Business Improvement Districts operate as non-profit organizations that collect annual taxes — called assessments — from property and business owners. The organizations are run by boards of directors, consisting of government officials, prominent landlords and business owners.
Unsurprisingly, developers often comprise much of these boards. For instance, Janno Lieber of Silverstein Properties and Seth Pinsky of RXR Realty sit on the Downtown Alliance’s Board. Jared Epstein of Aurora Capital Associates and Paul Pariser of Taconic Investment Partners are both on the board for the Meatpacking District’s newly-formed BID. Baseline, these organizations provide beautification and public safety services, programs that were especially paramount when the city’s first BID formed in 1984 in the Union Square area. Now, in addition to these services, some of the BIDs also run sophisticated marketing campaigns and produce real estate market reports for the areas they serve.
The 2015 report showed minor shifts from 2014, which saw $120 million in total expenses across 70 BIDs. Just as in 2014, the Times Square Alliance saw the most revenue in 2015 with $22.4 million, $12 million of which came from its annual assessment. Other revenue came in through fundraising, grants and other sources. The Downtown Alliance followed with $19.8 million in revenue, $15.9 million of which came from its assessment. The total revenue for all BIDs reached $134.7 million in 2015, up from $127.4 in 2014.