To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the business improvement district (BID), which also goes by FAB FULTON, Borough President Eric Adams presented the organization with a proclamation acknowledging its impact on the community.
“People often times look at a business district and don’t know that inside the business district, there are establishments that make up a community,” Adams said.
Last Wednesday, Adams accompanied FAB FULTON executive director Phillip Kellogg on a tour of Fulton Street businesses. Their first stop was at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, an independent bookstore that is also celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
Adams and Kellogg spoke with store owners Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting about some of the challenges they face, such as rising costs and regulations.
The pair then went across the street to Brooklyn Moon Restaurant, a Fort Greene staple that first opened in 1983. Adams discussed with owner Michael Thompson about some of the artists who have performed there, including Mos Def, Erykah Badu and Chris Rock.
Their last stop was Levels Barbershop in Clinton Hill, a fixture in the neighborhood for two decades. Denorval Parks, co-founder of Levels, called barberships the “epicenter of any community.”
Levels was featured in the “Barber Shop Chronicles,” which made its New York debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) last week. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel even visited Levels for a show segment on the 2012 election.
Kellogg said he was very excited to show the borough president some of the stellar businesses that have been on Fulton Street for a long time.
“There’s a sense of community that each one of these businesses foster,” he said. “They’ve contributed to a greater sense of community throughout the district.
“It’s these individual mom-and-pop businesses, and the personalities they lend, that make Fort Greene and Clinton Hill so special, and Fulton Street in particular,” Kellogg added. “We don’t have a lot in the way of chains.”
Kellogg noted that the cost of doing business in New York “gets more expensive everyday.” He said it’s not just about rent, which is an issue, but also unfunded mandates and regulations.
While he supports initiatives that help employees, Kellogg said the pressure has been put on small businesses to shoulder the entire burden.
“The borough president and other elected officials have an opportunity to, while we are implementing very good policies, figure out a way to help businesses pay for it,” Kellogg said.
To commemorate its 10-year anniversary, FAB FULTON also released a new report highlighting the group’s successes over the last decade.
With just three employees, the BID represents a district that is 1.4 miles long with 425 businesses and property owners. Over the past 10 years, FAB FULTON has secured $9 million in grants, sponsorships and in-kind support.
Using those funds, the organization has constructed new public spaces, including Fowler Square, Putnam Triangle, 7-Corners and Gateway Triangle.
Adams said these pedestrian plazas have become places where residents and shoppers can sit down, and even play a game of chess.
“It’s beautiful, especially during the summer months,” he said.
“It’s a real gathering place for people rich or poor, young and old,” Kellogg added. “People deserve this kind of public space.”
Since FAB FULTON was founded, its sanitation crew has logged 76,999 hours of cleanup, and removed 8,455 instances of graffiti. It has installed 125 bike racks, 41 light-pole banners and planted 45 trees.
Their marketing materials have reached nearly 31,000 people.
The BID has also worked with the 88th Precinct and Brooklyn North on crime and quality of life issues, according to the report.
FAB FULTON has also created free public events, like outdoor holiday caroling during the holidays and a free movie series, which help drive foot traffic and word-of-mouth advertising for local businesses.
Other accomplishments include fighting to pass a moratorium on awning sign violations, persuading the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create more loading zones, and joining 20 other BIDs to launch the “Hate Has No Business Here” campaign.
Ultimately, their efforts have reduced the storefront vacancy along Fulton Street from 12 percent in 2009 to 7 percent in 2019, two points lower than the average for business districts citywide.
“For 10 fabulous years, FAB FULTON has been helping to build a stronger neighborhood by supporting local businesses and creating opportunities and a welcoming environment for residents, merchants and visitors,” said Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS).
After 10 years as executive director, Philip Kellogg announced he will step down from the role in early 2020.
In a statement, Max Nager, the secretary of FAB FULTON’s board of directors, applauded Kellogg’s leadership over the past decade.
“His vision, tenacity and dedication were the forces behind all of these great achievements, which will have a lasting impact on the district for decades to come,” Nager said. “We are grateful that he positioned the organization for more success in the future, and we will work to find a successor that shares his passion for this important work.”