Pitch made for midtown BIA

[attach]7570[/attach]Restaurant owner Diana Sideris, who is part of a steering committee for a proposed midtown business improvement area, says she has seen the benefits of a BIA firsthand: when she opened the second location of Tabülè, her Middle Eastern restaurant, on Queen Street East last year it was already busy, thanks to a social media campaign organized by the Riverside District BIA.

Sideris and other committee members, including local councillor Josh Matlow, have pitched the idea of a BIA representing businesses along Yonge Street between Roehampton Avenue and Merton Street to several midtown businesses. Since last fall they’ve been distributing flyers, and a two-part open house has been scheduled for March 4 to gauge interest.

The event is set for 8–10 a.m. at Grano, 2035 Yonge St., and 6–8 p.m. at Quince Bistro, 2110 Yonge St.

“That stretch of midtown Yonge has some wonderful shops and restaurants, but it needs city hall’s support,” Matlow said recently.

By forming a BIA the businesses along midtown Yonge would contribute to a pool and be eligible for city grants that they could invest into streetscape improvements like murals, trees, flowers, banners, façade improvements and street festivals, he said.

“It would definitely unite us more as a community,” said Sideris, who opened the first Tabülè location at 2009 Yonge St. in 2005. “When you think of all the neighbourhoods that people love in the city, they all have BIAs.”

A majority of the area’s business, land and building owners would need to approve the plan for a BIA to move forward.

“We may have some issues convincing some people, because it’s almost like an extra tax,” Sideris said.

She says she remains optimistic, though, considering an initial meeting in the fall was attended by about 40 business owners — a far cry from the five Matlow says attended the last time he tried pitching the idea.