New Businesses Flock to Flatiron District as BID Expands in January
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The Flatiron District is seeing growing interest from a variety of new companies looking to set up shop in New York.
In total, 70 businesses have expressed interest or signed new leases since July 2020, according to the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.
“We’ve seen a continuing trend of tech, media/info organizations,” said Executive Director James Mettham. “We’ve also seen the start of a life science hub on Park Avenue South, which was invested in before the pandemic. It’s all towards this diversifying of the economy and strengthening our neighborhoods.”
Mettham told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, that the business improvement district (BID) is stronger 20 months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York because it is no longer relying on one type of tenant or industry for the viability of its neighborhoods.
“We’re not a one industry town anymore,” he said.
Office occupancies in the Flatiron District are about 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The Delta wave pumped the breaks on the return to the office this fall. Now, the target is early next year for many companies.
“You have a lot of people, employees, that have found a way to make the most of working from their homes and are comfortable in doing that. At the same time, I think everyone sees the value in coming back together in a creative environment that’s not just confined to the walls that you’re in, but just, the air that you breathe in a neighborhood like Flatiron and NoMad where there’s just an abundance of like-minded organizations/companies that are the future of the kind of the digital economy,” said Mettham.
The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is nearly doubling its footprint in January after the New York City Council approved their expansion proposal to cover 20th Street, the Sixth Avenue gateway to the district, and more of NoMad.
“The core quality of life work that we bring to the table, and actually, to set the table for more vibrancy through commercial and business growth will be brought to the streets inside of NoMad,” said Mettham, continuing, “That means there are supplemental cleaning services, that means there are public safety officers on the beat working with our city agencies, homeless outreach as well, and then, marketing, concerted marketing and district promotions for the business community that resides in this greater footprint.”
The New York business leader noted the Flatiron District’s Instagram page that promotes local businesses has grown above 27,000 followers.
BIDs play an important role in supporting local businesses, and in Mettham’s words, “uplifting” families and communities. They can be a great resource for business owners when considering renting, expanding or finding new clients in specific neighborhoods. The Flatiron BID executive director told WCBS 880 he takes a hyperlocal approach to economic development.
“With jobs, with business entrepreneurship, innovation, mixed in with important public realm improvements like our NoMad Piazza and our slow streets on 23rd and 21st and Broadway – all of that comes together and creates a special mix where commerce can grow and people – as we’ve seen in New York City over the past two decades – want to live, work, and play, and visit,” Mettham said.
Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above for more on how the Flatiron District is rebuilding for the post-pandemic future.