Bid to name MacDougal St. block for founder of BID’s

In October 1934, men — hopefully with jobs — relaxed on benches around Union Square’s Independence Flagpole.

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  The family of the late Norman Buchbinder — a real estate visionary and founder of two local business improvement districts — has begun an effort to name a Village street after him.

Buchbinder, who died in 2007 at the age of 84, was revered by many area residents, merchants and city officials through his work as principal of the real estate management company Buchbinder & Warren, which, to this day, is still based out of its longtime headquarters at 1 Union Square West.

He co-founded the Union Square Partnership, the city’s first business improvement district, which dates back nearly four decades and covers Union Square and 14th St. between First and Sixth Aves. Buchbinder later founded the Village Alliance BID, which mainly covers Eighth St. between Cooper Square and Sixth Ave., sparking a great deal of small business growth within that stretch of the neighborhood.

The street-naming application is being led by Buchbinder’s daughter Lori, who is now a principal of Buchbinder & Warren, and his son-in-law Bill Abramson, who also works for the company and is married to his other daughter, Susan. Lori Buchbinder and Abramson made their initial presentation to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee on Jan. 9, and they are seeking to co-name MacDougal St. between W. Eighth St. and Washington Square North, “Norman Buchbinder Way.”

“He loved the Village, and he really threw all of himself into making into making these streets better,” Lori Buchbinder told the committee. “He was a true visionary, and he recognized how important it was to create strong partnerships and collaborate with tenants, and with city government.”

And at this point, they’ve already gotten around 50 people to sign a petition in support of the request, including elite developer Francis Greenburger, C.E.O. of Time Equities, and Walter Melvin, a renowned architect who has been active Downtown, as well as numerous Eighth St. residents and business owners.

“To me, Norman is a hero,” said Arnie Segarra, a longtime W. Eighth St. resident and once an aide to former Mayor David Dinkins, who spoke at the C.B. 2 meeting and said that he met Buchbinder when he first moved to the Village in 1967. “He was ahead of his time in terms of diversity, in terms of the people he employed and the people he rented to. So when I think of Norman, I don’t think of a landlord — I think of a friend to folks in the neighborhood, someone who always cared very deeply about the health of the community.”

The C.B. 2 committee passed a resolution supporting the street-naming request, and the application will now have to be approved by the full board, which meets Thurs., Jan. 23. The request would eventually have to be approved by the City Council.