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Sunnyside Shines Tries to Combat Tough Economy

April 29, 2010 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Shines, the neighborhood’s local business improvement district (BID), held its 2nd annual meeting on Wednesday.  Attendees were told that the group is going to pump $90,000 into marketing the district­- ­ $30,000 higher than its current level.

“We must drive traffic into the stores,” said John Vogt, the chairman of the BID. “We are holding our own [in terms of vacancies] in these difficult economic times, but we want the district to be more vibrant.”

The meeting, held at SideTracks, was well-advertised and attended by both business leaders and residents alike. A new board of directors was voted in, which included three new individuals: Patrice Lee, owner of April Glass; Alicia Prendergast, a local resident; and a new representative from NYC’s small business services. Vogt was reappointed as chairman.

James Bray, the executive director, provided a review of what the BID had achieved in the past year.  He said the BID had been promoting businesses via advertisements in local newspapers; holding street events, such as “summer streets” and the jazz festival; bettering the BID’s website by putting together an online business directory; blasting out a coupon campaign through e-mails; and erecting Holiday lights.

The BID, which has a budget of a little more than $300,000, also manages the cleaning staff who maintain the district.  The majority of the BID’s funds come from a levy placed on commercial property owners—based on the size of each store.

Bray is currently working on putting together the first annual “Taste of Sunnyside” where local residents will be invited to Master Billiards on Oct. 19, from 6 pm to 9 pm, to sample food from many of the neighborhood’s restaurants. He is also working on erecting flower pots on top of street lights and putting together “movies in the park”.

The BID is also working with the police department on a campaign to create a centralized list of stores with surveillance cameras. The police want to be able access the list, so they can call on those stores should a crime occur near their business. The police aim to roll out the program throughout Northwestern Queens, with the intention of taking the campaign citywide.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer attended the event and congratulated the organization.  He said, “It’s no wonder Sunnyside is the number one rated neighborhood in Queens,” referring to a recent article in NY Magazine that ranked Sunnyside as the third most livable neighborhood in the five boroughs.

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