5th’s BID fight

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In a move that could finally diminish Fifth Avenue’s reputation as Seventh Avenue’s ugly younger sibling, business owners won preliminary approval on Wednesday to form a business improvement district.

The incipient Fifth Avenue BID, approved overwhelmingly by Community Board 6, would stretch from Dean to 18th streets, and proposes to provide extra cleaning, better lighting and more — services that, in a perfect world, city government would provide.

“[A BID] will finally move Fifth Avenue to a new level,” said Irene LoRe, the co-chair of the BID’s steering committee and the owner of Aunt Suzie’s Restaurant, which has been on the avenue for 20 years.

LoRe envisions a spiffed up thoroughfare, with J.J. Byrne Park, between Third and Fourth streets, as its “central plaza.”

“I want to do midnight showings of ‘the Rocky Horror Picture Show’ there during the summer,” she said.

The avenue’s approximately 600 retailers would agree to pay an additional tax to underwrite the BID’s costs, or about $500 a year.

“This is a self-selection process,” said CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. “Merchants took the ball and ran with it.”

Now that they have the CB 6 approval, BID organizers will take their case to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, which oversees the city’s 56 BIDs and is eager to oversee more.

Many businessowners said they support the BID bid, but not everyone is all that excited about the prospect of more expenses.

“These are small stores, and business is not good here,” said a woman named Inga, the co-owner of Optical Illusion, between 11th and 12 streets. “We are Fifth Avenue, but we are not Seventh Avenue. I personally think it’s a lot of money.”

This would be the community’s second BID. The neighborhood’s first — the North Flatbush BID — was formed more than 20 years ago.

If all goes as planned, the Fifth Avenue BID could start operating as early as next spring.

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