BID Celebrates 20 Years of Serving the Downtown Community

The Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) celebrated 20 years of serving the Downtown community at its Annual Meeting held June 1 at the Palace Theatre. The event served to commemorate the District’s transformation, announce the Board’s new Board Members and Officers, and brought together current and former BID Board and staff members, property and business owners, and elected officials.

The new slate of Officers include: Rich Rosen from Columbia Development Companies as Chairman, Jim Hart of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as Vice Chairman, Jeffrey Gordon of Gordon Companies as Secretary, and Dan Fariello of Capital Bank as Treasurer. New Board Members include: Meghan Barkley of Aeon Nexus, Tracy Metzger of TL Metzger & Associates, David Sarraf of Fairbank Properties, and Pamela Nichols of O'Connell & Aronowitz.

“When you have a Downtown that’s growing as fast as ours, it’s important to have a quality partner that can work with all involved, and for the City of Albany that partner is the Downtown BID,” said Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan. “This collaboration is critically important, helping the public and private sector to come together to make healthy investments that benefit not just our Downtown, but the entire City.” 

From its inception, the BID has held the mantra of “Clean & Safe,” with the implementation of those initiatives including purchasing bicycles for beat officers, and a Clean Team that has removed over 2 million gallons of trash and spread approximately 20,000 lbs of calcium chloride onto icy sidewalks during 100,000 logged man hours.

When the BID was formed in 1996, the District was primarily viewed as the seat of government, drawing largely on legal and financial firms. One of the first major development initiatives, The Albany Plan, brought $220 million of investment in the form of construction of three major government office buildings, a state parking facility, and drawing 2,500 employees to Downtown.

Over the course of two decades, and $1 billion in commercial investment, the area has gone through a renaissance to become Albany’s newest neighborhood. To date, 790 market-rate residential units have been created with another 111 units coming online this summer, and the conversion of 230 residential units currently in development. Ranging from college students to baby boomers and empty nesters, those who are choosing to live Downtown have access to world-class dining and entertainment, and are steps from access to the waterfront thanks to the construction of a pedestrian bridge over I-787 and the $10 million renovation of the Corning Riverfront Park.

More than just drawing residents to Downtown, an increasing number of developers have worked to tap into the growing visitor population, with the District experiencing an 88% increase in hotel rooms with three new hotels coming online. Among those who will soon be taking advantage of the rooms are the projected 80,000 annual visitors the Albany Capital Center will draw beginning in March 2017.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who delivered the keynote address, spoke of the importance of downtowns saying “Organizations like the BID are so important to help pull people together, to give people who’ve lived here all their lives and the newcomers you want to welcome with open arms, to say yes there is a sense of place, of character, of identity. This is that charm you get in downtowns. Those who were the true believers 20 years ago are finally able to see the fruition of that faith that you can bring your community.”

As the District has changed, so has the role of the BID, becoming a resource for all things Downtown including disseminating information to Stakeholders, District and area residents, employees, and visitors.  

“The renaissance our District has seen over the past 20 years has been remarkable, and the BID is thrilled to have been a partner in the transformation,” said Georgette Steffens, executive director of the Downtown Albany BID. “It is through the efforts of the BID, the City, the State, and property and business owners working in collaboration that so much has been accomplished. Over two decades to go from an area where the primary concern was Clean & Safe to one where thousands of people will reside is an incredible achievement and testament to those who’ve invested in our District, and I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring.”

To compliment the event, the Downtown BID also released a video that profiles the incredible transformation of Downtown since the organization's creation in 1996 through the experiences of local elected officials and business leaders. Click here to view the video and feel the energy of Downtown and learn what the future holds for workers, residents, and visitors to New York's Capital City.