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Riverhead Business Improvement District unveils new website to promote downtown businesses

Riverhead Business Improvement District has a new digital presence. 

The BID last week unveiled its new website that will focus heavily on Historic Downtown Riverhead, or DTR.

BID executive director Kristy Verity said since joining the BID last July, she noticed there wasn’t a website that easily offered information, directories and resources to visitors, current and future residents.

“We have some great news outlets and the town has all their information online, but we saw a gap where there wasn’t anything really pulling people into one place,” Ms. Verity said. “We wanted to fill that void … and not only to promote the businesses that are already there and things to do, but also the things that are coming.”

The site was developed over a four-month period by Ms. Verity and Greenport resident and journalist Rachel Bosworth following a formal bidding process.

The website offers information about Riverhead’s history, hospitality, activities and annual events, like Alive on 25 and the Cardboard Boat Race. Contact information for the BID and their mission is also accessible. 

“We wanted to kind of pull it all together and put it all onto one place — not only what the BID does, but the story of Riverhead and how its growing,” Ms. Verity said.

The decision to rebrand came after the BID hosted a downtown walk-through with the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Citizens Advisory Panel to receive feedback last September, Ms. Verity said. County officials, Village of Patchogue Business Improvement District executive director Dennis Smith, Riverhead community development administrator Dawn Thomas and former town supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and others attended the walk-through.

BIDMA president Steve Shauger, who represents the First District on the panel and is the general manager of the Hyatt Place East End hotel on East Main Street, said that panel is tasked with contributing grants for downtown areas.

Mr. Shauger, a Riverhead native who has served as BID president since June 2016, said the town has received multiple grants to revamp downtown Riverhead. Earlier this month, Riverhead received an $800,000 Empire State Development grant to create a new riverfront connecting Main Street to the river with recreational amenities and a gathering space. 

Last year, town officials failed to secure a $10 million New York State grant  that would have moved some parking along the Peconic River to north of Main Street to accommodate a new town square near the river. Town supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced Wednesday that a second community forum on the design of downtown Riverhead will be held on Thursday, Feb. 13 at the Riverhead Senior Center.

Mr. Shauger said the BID board set goals of improving the way they promoted the downtown area and creating brand loyalty to the community. The relaunch is part of that effort, he said. He added that members felt it was best to focus promotional efforts on downtown Riverhead instead of the BID directly.

“It really is an amazing place for many different reasons, and us, as the BID, are looking to do our part and bring this to light,” Mr. Shauger said. “I think that this website is a way to bridge that and make it happen.”