With little fanfare, the downtown CVS has opened for business this past weekend. I happened to ride past on my bike and the automatic doors opened. Those doors will welcome a tremendous number of downtown residents who have been clamoring for a place to get drug store items. Many would prefer a Target or similar retail business, but a CVS could be the beginning of more retail stores located downtown.
Initially, I wondered why CVS would open a third store within a one-mile radius. There is another CVS about three blocks away on Main Street which is open 24-hours and a third on North Avenue near Iona College. The new CVS will have hours from 7AM to 10PM. But after a conversation with Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District (NRDBID), I got the whole picture.
DiBart and his BID board were deeply involved in making our new CVS on North Avenue a reality. The property, 222 North Avenue, was owned by La Casa Del Bebe. CVS is leasing the building while Casa del Bebe wisely bought the property down the street and is opening a larger store to provide baby furnishings to downtown shoppers. It was a brilliant deal that expands the business community, stimulates walking traffic and accentuates the importance of the active NRDBID.
The New Rochelle BID is, in my humble opinion, a productive and innovative business stimulator. And as a candidate for City Council who will represent the downtown community, I support their efforts and would work to expand their ability to rebuild and promote our downtown business sector with both technical and financial support.
The NRDBID is a highly functional non-profit, quasi government agency of over 800 business and property owners. Their stated goal is “economic development, new business, and new investment” in the BID. The BID is also devoted to “assuring clean and safe streets, adequate parking and exciting downtown activities and events.”
The Jazz Festival, the Sidewalk Sales, the Yoga on the Green, Artist Exhibits and much more are the good work of the NRDBID. The recent Salsa Dance Party was attended by hundreds of residents. I was there dancing Salsa and loving every minute of the music and sense of community.
All of these free events are supported by the Avalon on the Sound which is one of the biggest contributors to our BID.
Okay, so why don’t they have an office downtown? Huh? DiBart responds: Why should we spend $1,500 a month of taxpayer money on rent? With the overhead, secretary and office supplies it could cost more than $4,000 per month of our money. Instead, DiBart runs the entire operation from his phone and tablet. Why not? It is the 21st century! And the BID provides all of us downtowners with free WIFI! How sweet it is.
The NRDBID would be a good forum to start the conversation about parking policy. I fervently believe that the parking policies are not supportive of business development. I come to this conclusion base on my own personal experience and conversations with numerous business owners and residents.
Example: a man goes to church on Sunday evening and gives $20 to the collection plate only get to his car to find a $40.00 ticket! ON A SUNDAY EVENING!!!
Restaurateur and bon vivant Alvin Clayton recalled a group who after dining at his restaurant, Alvin & Friends, walked to their cars to find five $40.00 tickets. Should there be free parking after 6PM to support restaurants and other businesses?
We all need to support our BID and local businesses by participating in events, shopping downtown and advocating for a change in the current parking policies.
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