Breathing New Life Into Monticello's Broadway Businesses and Homes


CLICK THE ABOVE FOR A HIGH-RES UNCROPPED PHOTO. (COURTESY MONTICELLO FIRE DEPARTMENT.)

Monticello residents, taxpayers, and business owners all want to see Broadway busy with traffic and commerce again, as it was years ago.

An option that the Board of Trustees has promoted for a decade or more has been the "artist loft", which allows business owners to live on the second floor of structures which are otherwise zoned for commercial use only. This good idea has worked well, but it has not gone far enough.

For years I have advocated changing the zoning to allow upstairs residency on Broadway again, as it existed years ago, as a way to improve the neighbourhood.

I am currently exploring a concept for re-populating Broadway with residents who will operate stores and other businesses on the street level.

Some have proposed allowing residentail use of second floor apartments, but restricted to building or business owners and their families. Definining who is "connected" to a building or business owner could be hard, or result in a law so narrow as to be ineffective.

We can not pursue a public policy designed to keep out "substandard tenants" (to quote the infamous words of our present Village Manager, John Barbarite)[1] or prohibit Section 8 residents, or we risk running afoul of the Fair Housing Act. We want to elevate the economic condition of Broadway by creating conditions that will benefit entrepeneurs and landlords of any race, nationality, or status.

I favor refining and clarifying the present law to provide financial incentives for residents of second-floor residents to establish and maintain businesses in street-level store fronts. The purpose would be to entice business people to live and work on Broadway.

A variation of the "artist loft" law, the idea I am proposing here is that upstairs residents who operate successful businesses downstairs be afforded such incentives as low-interest small business loans, grants, or other financial aid, but tied to the assurance that the upstairs tenant must operate a commercial business on the street level below. Only the operators of businesses on the street level and their dependents would be allowed to reside on the second floor.

Financial incentives would attract those committed enough to Monticello that they are willing to live and open a business on Broadway.

This proposal would attract financially stable residents to live on newly renovated second floors, while creating and operating new businesses on the street underneath their homes.

I am looking for support and improvements to this idea as I consult with fellow members of the Board of Trustees, and County, State, and other government officials and business and property owners for the good of Monticello.

Suggestions from Monticello business people, the Chamber of Commerce, and Sullivan Reniasance, are welcomed by Village elected officials like myself with and creative ideas for our "new" Monticello.