After a lengthy search, the BID hired Lauren Elvers Collins, executive director of the adjacent Church Avenue Business Improvement District, as the Flatbush Avenue BID’s new executive director. Lauren will manage both BIDs and will bring the benefit of overlapping programs, cost efficiencies, and economies of scale, while keeping the two BIDs as separate entities. Each BID will continue to be overseen by their board of property owners, business owners, and elected officials.
The Flatbush Avenue BID runs on Flatbush Avenue from Parkside Avenue to Cortelyou Road and includes approximately 250 property owners and businesses. Under BID Board Chair, Voltan Bagot, the BID is characterized by a mix of mom and pop stores and regional and national chains. It also includes the Flatbush Caton Market, a large shopping area on Tilden Avenue, and the soon-to-open Kings Theatre. It is funded by a tax assessment levied on properties within the BID and provides supplemental sanitation, security, and marketing for the businesses within its borders.
The Flatbush Ave. BID had been managed by longtime Executive Director, Jack Katz, until his unfortunate passing in late 2012. The former owner of the Buster Brown shoe store on Flatbush Ave., Jack and wife, Rita, were well-known on the avenue. He was best known to facilitate the BID’s support of local charitable efforts, especially the annual Thanksgiving luncheon at the Flatbush Reformed Church, and had a close relationship with the NYPD.
Lauren is the former executive director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, co-founder of the Windsor Terrace Alliance neighborhood association, and a member of Community Board 7. She specializes in marketing and media, nonprofit management and operations, government relations, and community planning. She created successful marketing campaigns to highlight small businesses including the From Roti to Rhubarb program spotlighting food establishments and attracting four new restaurants, a Shop Local campaign on Prospect Park West, and a current program celebrating the Caribbean impact on Church Avenue. She oversaw a $300,000 storefront restoration program which reimbursed property owners for up to 75 percent of their construction costs and she worked alongside local elected officials and the management of a national pharmacy chain to overhaul their upcoming site to add a grocery store.
“Lauren Elvers Collins has a great track record as the executive director of the Church Avenue BID, and it makes perfect sense for the Church Avenue BID and the Flatbush Avenue BID to come together under her leadership,” said Rob Walsh, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Lauren will help make the two organizations stronger, bigger, and better, and I am convinced will have a greater impact on the neighborhood and the city at large.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz stated, “Congratulations to Lauren Elvers Collins on her role as executive director of the Flatbush Avenue BID! Flatbush is primed for great growth in the years ahead, starting with the impending revival of the Kings Theatre. The opportunities to expand retail and entertainment growth along Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn’s major commercial artery, are truly endless. I wish Lauren, who also serves as president of my local Windsor Terrace Alliance, all the best in her endeavors!”
“I’m very happy with the work that Lauren has been doing on Church Avenue, and we’re especially happy with the storefront that the Church Avenue BID helped fund last year,” said Sammy Aoun, owner of Berto Kid’s Fashion on Flatbush Ave. and Berto for Kids on Church Ave. “I’m looking forward to more of the same on Flatbush Avenue. And now she can visit me at both Berto locations on Church and Flatbush avenues.”
A native New Yorker, Lauren welcomes the opportunity to serve the diverse constituencies in the district. “[Former Executive Director] Jack was one of a kind and I’m looking forward to building upon the work he did on the Avenue he loved so dearly. There is so much untapped opportunity on Flatbush Avenue to create programs to attract shoppers, identify resources for the businesses and property owners, and make Flatbush Avenue everything it can be.”
She added, “The Flatbush Avenue BID owes a huge thanks during this major transition to the dedication of the BID’s Board, interim BID manager Flatbush Development Corp. under Robin Redmond, and the tremendous support of the team at Dept. of Small Business Services, particularly Commissioner Rob Walsh, Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth de Leon Bhargava, Assistant Commissioner James Mettham, and Senior Project and Contract Manager Mahadya Mary. Their combined efforts kept the BID afloat during the past year and created a foundation for an even better Flatbush Avenue commercial corridor.”