Earlier this year, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras unveiled a “New Deal for Roosevelt Avenue,” which includes a proposal to expand the boundaries of the existing 82nd Street Business Improvement District to 104th Street to create the Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District. Given the benefits of being part of a business improvement district, this expansion will strengthen and protect small businesses across Jackson Heights and Corona.
My family owns a dental practice and we have been in business on 82nd Street for over 20 years. During that time, the 82nd Street Partnership, which manages the business improvement district here, has expanded its program and service offerings and has made a visible impact on the community. In addition, the group has actively reached out to and built relationships with local business owners. It feels good to know that there’s somebody taking care of the community, freeing us to focus on growing our business and better serving our patients.
The two biggest benefits of being in the business improvement district have been improved sanitation and safety. We can open our business early and feel confident that a patient is coming into a welcoming neighborhood with clean streets. We can also keep our business open later, sometimes until 10 or even 11 o’clock. For a time, we had to cut back on our hours because we were afraid that patients who were leaving late would get mugged. These days, we’re able to work as late as we need to because we feel confident that our patients will be safe. By being able to open our business earlier and stay open later, we have been able to serve more patients and our business has grown. That’s why, when we decided to open a second location last year, it made sense for us to stay within the business improvement district.
There is a cost associated with being in a business improvement district. However, you have to take a step back, and look at the big picture. We recognize that it’s an investment directly into the community where we work. Here on 82nd Street, you can see the impact that our investment has had on the community—we helped pay for those decorative planters, tree guards, benches, bike corrals, and sidewalk sweepers. The same way you invest in how your business looks—your awning, signage, and lights—it’s also important to directly invest in how your community looks.
That’s why this proposed business improvement district expansion is so important. When our patients come, they stay to eat and shop in the community. It’s an experience for them and we want to make sure that they have a good one. The expansion would allow us to know that our patients are being taken care of, not just along 82nd Street, but along Roosevelt Avenue. The proposed expansion also allows all of us who live and work here to have the opportunity to improve our quality of life. If you look around, you can see how diverse this community is. We are all immigrants here and we have worked hard to build our businesses and achieve the American Dream. We deserve this opportunity.
Community improvement is never-ending. There’s always room for improvement and we should always work to make things better. The proposed Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District is the first critical step towards that improvement. Let’s come together and strengthen our community. Let’s invest in making Jackson Heights and Corona friendlier to everybody. Let’s show them what we as small business owners and immigrants can do to make this place cleaner, safer, and better for everyone.
Araceli and her father, Dr. Ismael Bastida, are family owners of Smile Designs Dental Care (40-06 82nd Street). They are proud supporters of the Jackson Heights – Corona Business Improvement District and of the GoBizNYC small business coalition.
Para leer la versión en español, haga clic aquí.