Chinatown Gets Business Improvement District

The City Council approved a Business Improvement District (BID) for Manhattan's Chinatown. The BID will take annual fees from local businesses to help clean up streets and attract more customers.

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents Chinatown, said the BID would not only help businesses, but the overall quality of life in her district. "This has been a longtime coming, and for our community this is historic because Chinatown will be ready to join the rest of lower Manhattan in the re-birth of after 9/11," she said.

The BID will designate $1 million of its $1.3 million first year budget for extra sanitation efforts — with more garbage pick up and extensive street cleaning. The additional funds will go towards holiday lighting and street maintenance.

Those opposed the BID said it put an unnecessary burden on small businesses.

Long-time property owner Jan Lee said the costs seriously out-weigh the benefits. "This is the most inefficient, most expensive, most top heavy way to sweep the sidewalks of Chinatown."

Lee said the neighborhood had already gone through clean-up initiatives like the Chinatown Partnership. He said the partnership spent millions on cleaning up Chinatown, and it did little to help business.

Councilwoman Chin assured businesses that they would make more money with the BID’s improvement to the neighborhood, and it offset the extra costs.

Chinatown has approximately 150,000 residents and serves many of the 600,000 ethnic Chinese living in New York City. Approximately 1,400 street-level businesses and 1,891 different property owners will fall under the Chinatown BID.

The bill passed 50-0. The legislation goes into effect immediately, but it will take about five months before the BID is fully functioning.