8. Develop a self-sustaining Open Street funding model by creating a template License Agreement that may be entered into between an approved “Open Street Partner Organization” and the City of New York.

Open streets can be incredibly expensive and resource-intensive endeavors for CBOs. These public realm activations require significant funding and to-date have been largely financed through local donations, sponsorships, and BID revenues (where applicable), as well as managed through volunteer time.

While City agencies have more recently created new financial assistance programs to offset the cost of Open Streets, through the Open Streets Grant (Department of Small Business Services) for example, these one-off or term-limited funding sources may not allow sustained management of Open Streets beyond the availability of federal, state, or city funds.

︎ A User Experience
︎ B Long-Term Coordination
︎ C Inclusive Design
︎ D Collaboration and Communication
︎ E Support commerce and entrepreneurship

︎ Process / Regulatory Framework
︎ Funding
︎ Technical Assistance

“For these smaller BIDs, obviously it's all about resources: the money itself, or staff. That's where the concession agreement is very helpful to the organizations.”
Fred Cerullo, Grand Central Partnership

HOW TO IMPLEMENT In order to create a self-generating funding model for CBOs to manage and maintain existing Open Streets, the City should consider developing a License Agreement that may be entered into between an approved “Open Street Partner Organization” and the City of New York. This license agreement, similar to the existing DOT Plaza Concession License, should grant approved “Open Street Partner Organizations” the ability to operate and manage the “Licensed Open Street” (boundaries as determined in the agreement) and maintain and/or repair the amenities installed within the Licensed Open Street (not including capital improvements or alterations).

Through the license agreement, the City should grant the right to the “Open Street Partner Organization” to manage and operate a market concession or subconcession (for a predetermined time period) that would grant Open Street Partner Organizations the ability to generate revenues that must then be directly used to manage and operate the Licensed Open Street.

While not every Open Street may be able to enter into such agreements, it does incentivize willing community organizations to use street space creatively in order to generate public realm management during peak days and seasons. For example, an Open Street Partner Organization may, with an Open Street License Agreement, choose to charge participating restaurants a nominal fee to participate in the Open Street, or concession out a portion of the roadway for street vendors that offer complementary products and services to existing businesses located on or near the Open Street.

“Open Streets is running, but DOT has this history of never really resolving with DCWP how to conduct transactional commerce in things like summer walks and weekend walks and summer streets and all that. Somebody just made that up, right? They'll pretend it's illegal, but it's illegal until it's legal, that's not the question, right? So I'm struggling to run Open Streets. I would've done it for another six or eight or 12 weeks if I'd had $30,000, but I can't sell a concession to the vendor who's rolling up and poaching the space anyway. I can't even print a t-shirt or a nifty little cap and sell it for $4.50.”
David Estrada, Sunset Park BID

Case Study ︎︎︎  Case Study ︎︎︎  Case Study ︎︎︎  

︎ Nur Asri

Fowler Square

Brooklyn, NY

During the pandemic, the DOT entered into unique license agreements directly with individual restaurants to designate sections of DOT Plazas for revenue-generating commercial uses. These agreements were designed for restaurants on or adjacent to Fowler Square (e.g. Black Forest Brooklyn and Peaches Hothouse) that were unable to expand outdoor dining to their curbside (due to a variety of factors, including being located in front of a bus stop, having limited sidewalk width, etc.) for a time-limited period. A similar license agreement was also used in Ridgewood, Queens, where Myrtle Ave BID Executive Director Ted Renz shared that he would like to see his local plaza continue to share programming and management responsibilities with local restaurant partners who, prior to the pandemic, were not inclined to support public realm management efforts at the plaza.

︎ Barnabas Crosby