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Long Island City biz district moves forward

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Gayle Baron, the development corporation's president, told members of the board that the BID would go a long way to turning Long Island City and the Queens Plaza into the gateway Queens deserves.

"(Right now) it's certainly not as attractive as it could be," she said of the area.

Baron said the BID will focus on three primary improvements for the area it covers: sanitation, security and marketing.

The BID includes 85 properties along Queens Plaza North and South between Jackson Ave. and 21st Street.

Commercial property owners in the area would foot the bill for the additional services, paying yearly assessments that would be calculated based on the size of their entities.

Residential property owners would pay nothing, Baron said.

Yearly assessments would range from more than a $100,000 to as low as $200, with a median payment of $1,196.

Citibank, the largest property owner, would pay $108,000. Metropolitan Life would pay the next highest rate at $54,000.

The fees are worth it, Baron said. "We believe that by the creation of a BID, everybody wins."

For about two years, the BID's sponsors have pursued an aggressive campaign to promote public awareness and garner support for the project, Baron said.

Michael Reale, who conducted outreach for the development corporation, said the organization sent out informational packets to all property owners, hosted two public meetings, phoned owners who did not respond and sent out final letters. In all, he said he held more than 200 conversations on the matter.

"We tried to be inclusive as possible and we'll try to answer any questions we can," Baron said.

The campaign worked, Baron and Reale said.

More than 50 of the properties have offered their consent for the plan either explicitly or by not saying no, Reale said, meaning the group has surpassed the 51 percent approval requirement in order for the City Planning Commission to review the project.

With little debate, Community Board 2, which represents Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City, voted to approve the plan last Thursday during its monthly meeting.

The development corporation was slated to testify before the Planning Commission Wednesday.

The group hopes to gain City Council approval to have the BID in place by January 2005, Baron said.

Baron said she expected the BID's creation to continue Long Island City's positive evolution.

"There are parts of Long Island City that are cleaner than it was a year ago and we're looking to see if there's a way to keep that in place," Baron said.

In other news, fellows from the Design Trust for Public Space, announced an initiative aimed at fostering a sense of common identity for Long Island City's far-flung attractions.

Nina Rappaport, one of the fellows, said 20 signs bearing a specially designed logo -- "Long Is City" -- were to spring up in subway advertising space donated by Clear Channel Communications.

The logo, she said, speaks to the varied nature of the area's uses, including art venues, restaurants, housing and industry.

"We're not interested in directing people through little. tiny street signs," Rappaport said. The project is to ensure "that when people get to Long Island City, they know they're here."

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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