NEW YORK — After two years of planning, the Fashion Center Business Improvement District has become a reality.
Operating with a first-year budget of $3 million — of which $550,000 has already been received — the Fashion Center BID opened its doors last week in a renovated storefront at 249 West 39th St. Funding is derived from a special property tax assessment from real estate owners in the district.
“The message we want to get out across the country,” said Carvel Moore, executive director of the FCBID, “is that change is here, now.”
That change includes sanitation and security services designed to make the fashion district — the area covering West 35th Street to West 41st Street, and from Fifth Avenue to Ninth Avenue — a better-policed, cleaner and a more highly promoted place in which to conduct business.
By the middle of next month, a team of 21 uniformed sanitation workers — wearing the FCBID’s logo of a black button — and a security detail of 16 uniformed officers and three plainclothes investigators will begin operations. The uniforms were designed by Stan Herman, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
All services will operate five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. — with the time frame of operations subject to change according to needs, said Moore.
“We expect to see results within the first week,” she said, adding that the FCBID’s long and short-term goals were one and the same. “We, along with the other groups, want to strengthen this industry.” Some of the ideas on the table include an 800 number and an on-line information system, shuttle buses, hospitality services, buyers’ lounges and discount packages on travel, hotels and theater tickets.
Moore said the FCBID will also be talking to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani about the possibility of installing a fashion commissioner as a liaison between the mayor’s office and the fashion community.
The FCBID will also operate a social service outreach program starting in April, geared towards the needs of the homeless in the area and linking them with existing services.
“There is no idea that is inappropriate to us,” said Moore. “Anything from flower pots on the street to cappuccino bars is possible.”
Future projects include attracting a new hotel and several restaurants to the area. Moore said the FCBID will hold a kickoff party in March, which will seek the participation of New York Governor Mario Cuomo, the mayor and several designers.