A NEIGHBORHOOD IS ITS PEOPLE 2020 Annual Report
ORIGINAL DOWNTOWN EST. 1625
A Message From The Chair And President
Lower Manhattanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Strength Is Its People
How We Helped
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR AND PRESIDENT This year challenged us in unprecedented ways. Pre-COVID, Lower Manhattan was flourishing. But in March of this year, the pandemic thrust the neighborhood, the city, and country into uncharted territory. Statewide lockdowns closed businesses, essential workers put themselves on the front lines, and, tragically, we lost thousands of New Yorkers to the virus. No surprise however: Lower Manhattan is strong. In crisis its people came together. The city has begun to slowly reemerge from the shutdown, and popular new programs like outdoor dining and takeout cocktails have even helped make it lively. Still, the toll on our economy has been immense, and Lower Manhattan’s once-vibrant restaurants, bars, retail establishments and cultural institutions are struggling to regain their footing. We have faced challenges before. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in September 2001, the neighborhood, then partially reduced to rubble, seemed to many to be on the verge of collapse. And yet, we rebuilt. After the financial crisis of 2008 threatened the financial industry, we diversified our economy and thrived. In 2012, when Superstorm Sandy breached our seawall and flooded our streets, we committed ourselves to rethinking our relationship to the shore. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent hardening our waterfront and the work continues. Each crisis spurred us to adapt, change and make Lower Manhattan the neighborhood it is today, one that is home to a diverse collection of creative and professional industries, top-of-the-line eateries, beloved public spaces and nearly 63,000 residents. Lower Manhattan’s strength is its people. The essential workers who showed up in the face of an unprecedented health crisis. The restaurateurs and business owners who’ve kept their doors open in economic turmoil. Our board, the property owners, residents, and elected officials who remain committed to downtown. Through it all, we’ve done our best to do our part: awarding rent relief grants, removing graffiti, running our free bus, handing out thousands of free masks, using our website and media channels to share vital information, and cleaning and patrolling our streets. We are proud that our efforts have helped businesses stay open, workers stay healthy, and our streets cleaner, greener, and safer. We still have a long way to go. But if we work together, Lower Manhattan can once again rebuild, and once again do it better than ever. Sincerely,
Jessica Lappin President
Ric Clark Chair
LOWER MANHATTANâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S STRENGTH IS ITS PEOPLE 6 |
ESSENTIAL FACES DOWNTOWN New York City went on “pause” in mid-March to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the infection curve, temporarily shutting down many of Lower Manhattan’s office buildings, bars, restaurants, shops and service hubs. Much of our community stayed home. The streets of Downtown were quiet, save for the occasional sirens that served as a startling reminder that the virus was pulsing through the city. But Lower Manhattan was not asleep. Essential workers were out there working tirelessly to bring us necessary services like food, mail, and public transportation. They kept our city moving in what otherwise felt like stopped time. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers toiled for long hours to treat a flood of critical COVID-19 patients and save lives. Restaurant owners opened their doors to keep our community well-fed. Delivery workers dropped meals at our doors. Grocery and convenience store clerks rang up bags of beans, boxes of pasta, rolls of hard-to-find toilet paper, and the last bottles of Lysol on the drugstore shelves. Sanitation workers woke up at the crack of dawn to haul heavier and heavier bags of refuse. Con Edison engineers maintained the power grid. School lunch coordinators ensured families in need didn’t go hungry with the city’s Grab-and-Go program. Train conductors kept the subways and commuter rails running so help of the essential workers could get where they needed to be. Mail carriers endured multi-hour commutes so people could send and receive their packages and letters from loved ones. And when businesses began slowly reopening in June, shop owners and restaurateurs had to contend with slower foot traffic and slashed profits that threatened their establishments’ very existence. We lost some of them along the way. More are likely to follow. To celebrate our essential workers—and to share their immense efforts with the rest of our community—this spring the Downtown Alliance partnered with the Associated Press to dispatch a photographer to capture the people who kept us going. Over the course of several months, we interviewed dozens of essential workers about their new daily routines and challenges, and hopes and fears for the future. They told us about the struggles they endured, but also about the devoted customers who checked in on them, the regulars who kept them afloat, the New Yorkers who helped one another out. The portrait series was published directly on the Alliance blog and shared via our social platforms and weekly newsletter. The response exceeded expectations on two fronts: Social-media engagement with our readership rated on higher-than-average levels, and local retailers and restaurateurs shared with us that the stories brought in foot traffic and phone calls. Ultimately, the portraits formed a shared history of how lives changed during this unprecedented time, all the while exemplifying the unbeatable spirit of Lower Manhattan and the city as a whole.
THE WORKERS WHO MASKED UP LOWER MANHATTAN When COVID-19 first came to New York, Battery Park City maintenance technician Al Wright made sure to do his part to explain to strangers why wearing a mask is so important. “One day I was walking and I had my mask on. And a guy said, ‘Why are y’all wearing that mask?’ And I said, ‘You know why? So I don’t give the virus to you,” Wright told the Downtown Alliance. “I was trying to break it down to him. I said, ‘Yo, wear this mask. Because you don’t know right now — you’re standing by three people with no masks — you don’t know which one of y’all got it. But me? I’m not gonna give it to you, because I got my mask.’ And then he understood.” Even though he tries to stay in good spirits, life during the pandemic for Wright has been tough, and he lost family members to the virus. But through it all, he’s done his best to take care of Downtown, keeping Battery Park City clean, functioning and — of course — masked-up. Photographed: Al Wright
TAKING TO THE STREETS WHILE THE CITY’S STILL ASLEEP Sanitation worker Anthony Paolicelli’s work day begins at 5a and finishes before most New Yorkers even wake up — which means he has seldom come into contact with people while on the job. Those he has interacted with, however, have shown a renewed appreciation for sanitation workers, who perform a difficult but essential task in the rain, snow and sleet, and during lockdown. “They have really come out and thanked us for the job that we’re doing,” he said. “That’s happened a lot more now, and it makes us feel really, really great.”
Photographed: Sanitation workers
Otherwise, work hasn’t changed much for him. Sanitation workers are at risk of being exposed to germs and disease even outside a pandemic, so he and his crew have gone from “very conscious to ultra-conscious” of proper hygiene and health safety. Though Paolicelli has noticed residential garbage has gotten quite a bit heavier now that everyone’s home all the time. “I handle it, and let me tell you, I can feel it,” he said.
DELIVERING MAIL IN RAIN, SHINE OR SHUTDOWN For months, USPS City Courier Renan Tavera’s route was nearly deserted. “The mail is lighter compared to before,” Tavera, who mostly delivers to businesses, told the Downtown Alliance in June. “There aren’t many people around. Everything is closed.” For the most part, his daily routine stayed the same, albeit with masks and a daily deep cleaning of his truck. But there was one big change: his commute, which now requires him to drive to Brooklyn and take the subway the rest of the way.
Photographed: Renan Tavera 10 |
Times have been tough for the U.S. Postal Service, which has faced searing financial problems and political strife over the last few months. But Tavera told the Downtown Alliance there are ways to help keep the centuries-old service going. “Order more stuff, send to your loved ones,” he said. | 11
HELPING ESSENTIAL WORKERS GET AROUND TOWN PATH engineer Elena Clarke has worked through the pandemic, and when she comes to work, she comes prepared. “I make sure I have all the PPE that I need,” she told the Downtown Alliance in July, “and not only for myself.” If a coworker forgets a mask or gloves or hand sanitizer, Clarke is ready to be generous — because it helps everyone. “We’re trying to all do this together,” she said. Clarke, who has worked for PATH for eight years, keeps in mind how important her role is to keep the city running, and to get essential workers where they need to go. Now that the city’s reopened, ridership is starting to get busy again. But Clarke says New Yorkers are still looking out for each other. “Every day, I’m seeing more people, and it’s funny because it used to be that everyone rushes to sit down and kind-of like push each other out of the way to get a seat,” she said. “But these days everyone’s a little more apprehensive of one another, a little more patient with each other, and I like seeing that.” Photographed: Elena Clarke
CUSTOMERS SO DEVOTED THEY MIGHT AS WELL BE FRIENDS After 50-year-old shoe repair shop Minas Shoe Repair shut down in mid-March, owner Menia Polychronakis started hearing from devoted customers. “Some regulars have emailed and said they walked by the store just to check on me,” Polychronakis, who inherited the shop from her father, told the Downtown Alliance in June. “When you see your regulars, it’s like seeing your best friends again.” Some customers even mailed Polychronakis their worn-out shoes in hopes of keeping her afloat. “We have die-hard customers who look in their closets for stuff to fix, because they want to help keep us in business,” she said. Minas Shoe Repair reopened for pickup and dropoff in mid-June, though business was slow. But the shop’s been through tough times before; Minas Shoe Repair’s original location was at the base of the Twin Towers, and was destroyed in the September 11 attacks. “Every day is a little bit better,” Polychronakis said. “I’m actually seeing some people wearing suits.” Photographed: Menia Polychronakis
SERVING THAI ICED TEA TO THE FRONT LINE WORKERS Thai kitchen Aroy Dee owner Kanruthai Makmuang had been working 25 days straight when the Downtown Alliance chatted with her in May, commuting to work by subway. “I protect myself a lot — I wear goggles. I have gloves. I have a mask. I have a hat,” she said. She also helps other New Yorkers protect themselves and others against the virus. “I have a customer who comes in who couldn’t find a mask, so I offered her a mask for every time she comes in,” she said. Business was slow for Makmuang in the spring, but it didn’t stop her from exhibiting her generosity of spirit. While providing for her customers, Makmuang showed her appreciation for those on the front lines: “I see fire trucks, and I run and bring them a Thai iced tea — they’re so happy about it.”
Photographed: Kanruthai Makmuang
THE HOSPITAL WORKERS THAT HELPED SAVE A CITY Healthcare workers are on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, as they battle to treat patients and stay safe themselves. Jasmine A. Torres, a clinical coordinator at the respiratory department at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, told the Downtown Alliance in April that the first few weeks of the virus’s surge had been “exhausting.” She and her team worked nearly 20-hour shifts to support respiratory therapists and administer breathing equipment and supplies, all of which were in dire need to fight the virus. Still, she said, she was inspired watching her colleagues come together to save lives. “I feel like we are in a battlefield, and it has been devastating to bear witness to so much suffering all at once and in such a short period of time,” Torres said, “but NewYork-Presbyterian has truly risen to the occasion. Our teamwork has been palpable.” Matthew Hall, a registered nurse in the critical care unit, likened his work to “standing on a beach, watching an approaching tidal wave gain speed and height and immeasurable power.” But at some point amid the madness, a small moment of levity seemed like a milestone break among the stress. “Someone laughed about something — for the first time in what felt like ages,” Hall recalled. “It was so remarkable I texted my boss immediately.” Photographed: Leon Davis
MAKING SURE THE LIGHTS STAY ON DOWNTOWN Even amid the pandemic, Con Edison kept the electric grid going, and in June longtime employee Leon Davis told the Downtown Alliance the crisis didn’t do much to change his day-to-day. Davis did get a new role with Substation Operations in May, which required some on-the-job learning at a strange time. “I have two planners and eight supervisors, and each supervisor has a couple of substations that they’re assigned to,” he explained. “And we basically maintain the equipment within the substations to ensure that it’s in great working order. So when an emergency comes, that equipment is working as soon as it needs to be.” Responding to sudden outages and emergencies are just part of the job for a Con Ed worker. Davis told the Alliance he was used to being prepared for the unexpected and thinking on his feet to solve sudden problems — all so that things could go back to normal for the customer and lights could come back on. “We believe that we are first-responders,” he said. “We definitely have boots on the ground to ensure that continuity of service isn’t an issue. So that’s why we exist. I call it, like, the ‘Men In Black’ effect, right? We do what we can to ensure that the customer doesn’t even notice what we’re doing. It’s seamless. That’s why we come to work each day.” Davis and his team are taking extra precautions, wearing masks and gloves and practicing social distancing to protect themselves against the virus. But, “there is no pause in what we do,” he said. “It’s ingrained in us that when there’s an emergency, we step up. We’re definitely going to be here — night, day, rain, sleet, snow, heat, pandemic.” 14 |
Photographed: NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital Workers
THE 24-HOUR DELI THAT BECAME A LIFELINE Cafe de Novo was like any other busy deli in pre-COVID times, serving up snacks, sandwiches and other necessities to a steady stream of customers round-the-clock. When the pandemic hit, foot traffic fell and business plummeted to 10% of the usual take. But David An, whose parents own the Cafe de Novo, found that the slower pace gave him more time to connect with customers. “You have more time to converse, to get to know people when you’re at the cash register,” he told the Downtown Alliance in June. “You can learn their names, find out more about them, you can have 20- or 30-minute conversations.” Amid the pandemic and shelter-in-place regulations, customers told him these exchanges felt special. It was sometimes the only opportunity that they had to talk with someone. “It was good to hear that,” An continued. “It means our store has become more than a deli, it’s like a hangout place. That’s a breath of fresh air for the customers as well as for me.” Slow business prompted the deli to close briefly in April, but they’re back open now, netting about 40% of their pre-pandemic numbers. An said he and his parents maintained the shop’s 24-hour schedule to keep their employees on the payroll, even though revenue was low. They also wanted to make sure late-night workers were able to stock up on sundries on off-hours. “We thought it made sense to be open for the neighborhood, to show everyone that we wanted to stand strong,” An said. “So much has changed, but as a provider of food, we want people to know that we’re here for them 24 hours, for whatever they need.”
Photographed: David An
WORKING THROUGH THE GRIEF ON WASHINGTON Matt Khatamov, who co-owns FiDi Cleaners on Washington Street, had to compound the city’s pandemic-related grief with his own after his father died in March. His family started their own dry-cleaning business after fleeing Soviet Russia 30 years ago. Khamatov’s father worked 80 to 90 hours a week. His mother, who died three years ago, handled the tailoring. “It started with the needle and the sewing machine,” Khatamov told the Downtown Alliance in June. “Everyone next to my dad — my mom, my sisters, me.” Sales dropped more than 80 percent in the COVID era, and Khamatov told the Downtown Alliance he was worried he’ll lose the whole business. But he also said he drew strength from home videos his father made dispensing wisdom from his father, a WWII veteran who marched by foot all the way to Germany in the Soviet forces. “My father always reminded me, ‘The good days pass, and the bad days also pass. Nothing is permanent. You should always be ready for the day when it will turn,’” Khamatov said. “‘Have a skill, and anywhere you end up in the world, you can always pick up your tools and start your life.’” Khamatov said he was working to build, create, renovate and expand as much as he was able, all thanks to his father’s lessons. “He taught me to stay balanced, so I could stand when I needed to stand,” he said. 16 |
Photographed: Matt Khatamov
THE LOCKSMITH HOLDING DOWN THE BLOCK Longtime locksmith Harry Santiago opened Telestar Locksmiths at 79 Pine Street in 1981. Since then, the shop’s weathered all sorts of catastrophes, that include 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. Still, it was never as bad as it’s been during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Telestar has a handful of residential clients, most of Santiago’s business comes from management groups that oversee commercial properties and banks like Capital One and Wells Fargo. With employees working remotely, things got pretty quiet. “We normally cut 100 to 200 keys a day,” Santiago told the Downtown Alliance in May. “Maybe now we cut one key a day. Sales are almost zero.” He currently sees just one or two people walk by the shop on what was once a bustling street. In fact, Santiago was the one holdout on the block in May, with every other business shuttered amid the shelter-in-place orders.
Photographed: Harry Santiago
“We’re the only ones open,” he said. “The liquor store next to us is closed, there’s a barber on the other side that’s closed. There was a jeweler, but he closed up. But there’s hope. We’ll be back. I know we’ll be back.”
FEEDING LOWER MANHATTAN’S FAMILIES When schools shuttered in March for the duration of the academic year, the NYC Department of Education had to figure out how to feed the city’s kids. School food service manager Donald Jarvis was among those who oversaw the city’s Grab-and-Go program, which served three free meals per day for anyone in need. “There are a bunch of students who’ve always relied on school to get their food,” Jarvis told the Downtown Alliance in May. “Now, you go to one of these sites, no questions asked, and you get the breakfast and lunch that you need.” Jarvis’s job was to ensure all the food served at Battery Park City School, where he was stationed, was fresh, safe and ready to be served. He found reassurance in his staff members, who managed to swiftly adjust to the Grab-and-Go program. “Everyone has their own health to worry about,” he said, “but everyone hears the call.” Because the program is essential for vulnerable New Yorkers to keep from going hungry, his staff understood. “They put on their masks, serve the food. They’re the inspiration.” Photographed: Donald Jarvis
THE FIREFIGHTERS WHO’VE BRAVED IT ALL The firefighters of Lower Manhattan’s Engine 4/Ladder 15 have been through some pretty tough times. The company lost about a dozen men on 9/11, and in 2012, the firehouse was seriously damaged in Superstorm Sandy after a six-foot wave broke through the door. John Leary, a lieutenant in Ladder 15, told the Downtown Alliance in May that he was certain the company would get through the COVID-19 pandemic, too. “The FDNY has been through a lot throughout the years,” he said. “This firehouse especially has been through it all. We’ve learned a way to tackle the next thing.” The daily routine changed a little at the firehouse. Sanitizing and cleaning became more frequent, and shifts switched less to minimize contact. One of the most difficult changes came when firefighters left the firehouse; at home, many tried to isolate themselves from their loved ones in case they were exposed on the job. Photographed: Engine 4/Ladder 15 18 |
Still, Leary was heartened by the city’s response, particularly the respect paid to healthcare workers on the front lines. “We are doing the ‘clap out’ for the nurses and the doctors,” he said. “I’m still part of the response, but it also feels good to be on the side of the people giving cheers. It’s like paying it forward.” | 19
THE MUSICIAN SHUTTLING WINE AROUND TOWN Before the pandemic, Logan Beaver was a jack of all trades at Financial District Wine & Liquor, making deliveries, fulfilling orders from the store app and for catered events, stocking shelves and assisting walk-in customers. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, the store shifted primarily to deliveries. When the Downtown Alliance spoke with Beaver in May, he was spending most of his time dropping wine and spirits at Lower Manhattan residents’ doors and occasionally manned the register. He still managed to get some face time with customers otherwise starved for human contact. “I get people talking my head off at the register because they haven’t talked to anyone in weeks,” Beaver told us. Not that he minded. Chatting with customers was one of the things he loved about his job. He especially enjoyed palling around with staff from neighboring NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital when they were shopping. “We joke that they specialize in physical health and we specialize in mental health,” Beaver said. A jazz musician, Beaver was particularly anxious for music venues to survive the shutdown. He lost his second gig, at a rehearsal space in Gowanus, soon after New York went on pause. “It’s really scary,” Beaver admitted. “I hope we can get the funding to keep those spaces alive.”
Photographed: Logan Beaver
MAKING SURE EVERYONE GETS THEIR VEGETABLES Manveen Singh, owner of Tandoor Palace at 88 Fulton Street, was down to about 10% to 15% of her usual business when the Downtown Alliance spoke with her in June. Still, she wanted to make sure the healthcare workers at Lower Manhattan NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, located just across the street, could get some fresh meals. “I just had to come back and be with them again, to serve them and make sure that they get the right food,” Singh said, adding that her dishes are chock-full of fresh vegetables and proteins. “We have been sending them lunches and dinners.” Tandoor Palace is the oldest Indian restaurant in the downtown business district, having operated on Fulton since 1994. Singh had no plans to close up. “If I could pull through 9/11, even if I have to work myself with no staff, I would do my best to keep it going,” she said. “I have succeeded so far. I do not want to close this now. This is like a family to me.” But Singh said people in the neighborhood were still frequenting Tandoor Palace and putting in food orders. “They are more than happy to support us,” she said, noting that the pandemic has brought out the good in people. “I think people have, on the whole, become more caring and New Yorkers are becoming more concerned about each other. They do feel the pain, because everybody’s going through it one way or the other.”
Photographed: Manveen Singh
HOW WE HELPED 22 |
OPERATIONS: WORKING TO KEEP LOWER MANHATTAN CLEAN, SAFE AND HEALTHY The Alliance Operations team has long been responsible for keeping Lower Manhattan clean, safe and inviting for Lower Manhattan’s residents, tourists and workers alike. When COVID-19 hit in the spring, Operations added public health measures to its already stocked toolbox. To help Lower Manhattan businesses, residents and visitors stay safe and healthy in public spaces, we installed sanitizer dispensers attached to Big Belly units at 20 locations near subway stations and other highly trafficked pedestrian areas. Team members have also placed social distancing signage in parks and public spaces to remind visitors and residents to stay at least six feet apart to mitigate the spread of the virus. In June, the city permitted local restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining as part of Phase II. To assist local restaurants with limited seating options, we encouraged diners to support local restaurants by placing and maintaining tables, chairs and signage highlighting local restaurants in Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) along Water Street, with locations including 55 Water Street, 4 New York Plaza, 77 Water Street and 200 Water Street. In addition to maintaining sanitation services, we switched out 42 handle-operated Big Belly trash compactors to ones with a foot pedal, bringing the total number of hands-free, hygiene-friendly Big Belly units to 53. There are a total of 178 Big Belly units located throughout the district, all of which Sanitation frequently wipes down. The Sanitation team has worked to keep Lower Manhattan sparkling throughout the shutdown. The team focuses on enhanced cleaning by power-washing public benches at Coenties Slip Park and Mannahatta Park as well as sidewalks throughout the district. Sanitation also cleans and sanitizes tables and chairs at Water/Whitehall Plaza, Coenties Slip Plaza, Broad Street bump-out, Albany Plaza and Gouverneur Lane. In July, the Alliance launched the Department of Transportation's Open Streets: Restaurants program partnership with several Lower Manhattan restaurants, giving eateries even more room for outdoor dining. Sanitation cleans and maintains those Open Streets: Restaurant locations. The Open Streets program is also operating under the watchful eye of our Red Coat-clad public safety officers, who work alongside the NYPD to keep the neighborhood safe. They monitor and maintain the Open Streets and Open Streets: Restaurants on Pearl and Pine streets, including setting out barricades to close the streets and monitoring street closures and restaurant areas. Public Safety officers also patrolled and monitored Lower Manhattan parks and plazas to prevent pedestrian gatherings from flouting social-distancing guidelines. They patrolled blocks with closed businesses to ensure the establishments were secure. And they continued to work with Lower Manhattan’s homeless population, notifying BRC homeless outreach when homeless individuals were in need of social services. The Alliance’s District Operation Associates ensured Lower Manhattan continued to run as smoothly as possible amid the chaos, regularly hitting the streets to survey the field. We counted bike racks. We checked in on local retailers and restaurants to see who was open. We inspected sanitizing stations to make sure they were working properly. 24 |
Perhaps most importantly, the Alliance distributed masks to local businesses and restaurants to help protect their customers and employees against the spread of COVID-19. We handed out a total of 90,000 masks as of late September including a major distribution effort to local schools as they reopened.
IN 2020, THE DOWNTOWN ALLIANCE …
The Alliance-run Downtown Connection bus service, which provides Lower Manhattan denizens with free rides around the district, ran throughout the pandemic. The Operations team ensured the bus received enhanced cleanings to keep riders and operators safe. And in October, we replaced our old fleet with a new operator and new slate of buses complete with an interior configuration and air filtration system to better enable the mitigation of communicable airborne disease.
Though COVID-19 colored much of the Alliance’s activity this year, Operations still managed to work on projects planned before the pandemic. Our “District Identity” plan, which created a cohesive and unified look to our public realm assets to highlight the Alliance’s stewardship, was completed this year, and the team began implementing it across Lower Manhattan. If you walk through the neighborhood, you can see our new logo on tables, vehicles, uniforms, signage, Big Belly units, planters and more.
hygiene-friendly Big Belly units
There was also time to celebrate art and beauty. In the spring, the Downtown Alliance hosted “Oscillation,” an interactive light installation at 77 Water Street. And in the fall, the Downtown Alliance hosted “Ziggy,” a vibrant installation at 200 Water Street, and “Out-Of-Office,” a flexible outdoor seating concept by design studio FANTÁSTICA installed at the Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street. The Operations Department oversaw the installation, maintenance and security for these installations. | 25
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: AT A TIME OF CRISIS, LENDING A HELPING HAND AND LAYING OUT THE FACTS COVID-19 lockdown measures saved lives, but they came with a real economic price. In the spring, leasing and development slowed, employment dropped and tourists stayed home. Few businesses were spared lost revenue, but our small businesses were especially hard hit. The Alliance mobilized, developing and implementing an $800,000 Small Business Rental Assistance Grant Program. The program provided desperately needed direct support to struggling Lower Manhattan retailers. We approved approximately 61 awards, to be applied to April or May rent bills, totalling $610,000 as of June 2020. Then, the Alliance launched the Small Business Technical Assistance Program, which provides free one-on-one technical assistance sessions to Lower Manhattan small businesses to help confront the COVID crisis. We did this by partnering with Streetsense, a well-regarded retail consultant, to assist restaurants and retailers on how to reconfigure their spaces to meet social distancing and new hygiene guidelines. Streetsense also produced two detailed COVID recovery toolkits for businesses downtown. At the onset of the pandemic, the Alliance also successfully lobbied the state legislature to extend Lower Manhattan’s set of leasing incentives for a period of 3 to 5 years to help ensure companies and organizations remain or relocate in Lower Manhattan. This year, the Alliance completed design work and received preliminary approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a new seating system in the heart of the Stock Exchange District, one that will bring much needed seating and greenery to the area. While this plan was placed on hold temporarily, we still plan to begin fabricating and installing the new seating when feasible. Of course, the Economic Development team continued to track and publish essential research. In addition to its regular quarterly reports on the state of Lower Manhattan’s economy, this year, we published a comprehensive report on biking in Lower Manhattan. The report confirmed that Lower Manhattan is a prime and popular spot for bike commuting, and yielded a set of recommendations aimed at improving the neighborhood’s cycling infrastructure to ease commutes to and from Lower Manhattan. 26 |
COMMUNICATIONS: GETTING THE NEIGHBORHOOD THE NEWS IT NEEDS The Downtown Alliance’s Communications team works as a megaphone for all that’s happening in Lower Manhattan, sharing with the residents and visitors information about everything from ongoing events to art installations to the tastiest slice of pizza. When COVID-19 arrived, sharing information became more important than ever and we upped our game. The Alliance made sure that residents knew which essential businesses were still open, how to file for unemployment, find childcare, or apply for home delivered meals for seniors. We shared info on where to obtain face masks and how to wear them, how to clean your phone, and where to get tested. We provided helpful tips to essential workers on ways to commute when the MTA shut down overnight subway service. As restaurants were cleared for outdoor dining, we made sure that owners knew how to set up according to new city regulations. The list goes on and on. And beyond essential information, with a significant portion of our community isolating at home, we shared stories and photos mindful that any news from beyond the couch felt like a lifeline to many. All of our pandemic guides and blog posts can be found via the Downtown Alliance’s website, along with an ever-updated list of area restaurants open for takeout, pickup and/or outdoor dining; and a comprehensive list of grant, loan and assistance programs aimed at helping local businesses, making the Downtown Alliance’s website a one-stop shop for Lower Manhattan constituents in need.
Dining Around Downtown...Online Before the pandemic, the Communications team connected with the community by hosting a slew of popular events, including the annual Dine Around Downtown. In March, social distancing measures required us to get a little creative. In April and May, we created Dine Around Downtown: Cooking at Home Edition, a pivot from our annual, highly popular lunchtime food festival to promote Lower Manhattan restaurants. Hosted by celebrity chef and TV star Rocco DiSpirito and launched in June, the premiere series featured Delmonico's Restaurant, Gnoccheria, and Taim. The virtual series drew 805 registrants, all of
whom received pre- and post-event communications sharing information about the restaurant, the chef and featured recipes, and our support of the local restaurant community. We brought it back in the fall and plan to keep it going in 2021 to continue supporting our restaurants. Another way we virtually supported Lower Manhattan’s eateries? Making online ordering easier, and more profitable. The Alliance partnered with BentoBox to create the Online Ordering Sponsorship Program, which provides restaurants with their own delivery and takeout platforms in an effort to separate them from third-party services like Seamless and Grubhub. The program includes a virtual orientation, one-on-one training for each restaurant, and additional periodic webinars to receive restaurant feedback on aspects of the program that could use improvement. The program covers a full free year of services, including ongoing technical and marketing support.
A VIBRANT COMMUNITY FINDS EXPRESSION ONLINE How do you connect a community when the community can’t physically come together? That was the challenge LMHQ, the Downtown Alliance’s flexible collaborative space that opened in 2015, faced in the time of COVID-19. In the first half of the fiscal year, LMHQ hosted 21 events at its event space at 150 Broadway, including popular recurring programs like its monthly Women’s Breakfasts and “Fireside Chat” series, a collaboration with Downtown publishing house HarperCollins. Once the pandemic hit, LMHQ moved its events online, hosting 19 events virtually. It was an ultimately rewarding challenge: the move found LMHQ expanding its community beyond Lower Manhattan with more people tuning in from states across the US as well as countries spanning the globe, including Nigeria, Bulgaria, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. Highlights included a presentation on the Black Gotham Experience in Dutch-settled Lower Manhattan by artist/historian Kamau Ware, and a monthly Women’s Breakfast panel on the rise of newsletters, which was immensely popular and inspired a lot of fruitful conversation and networking among attendees. In July, LMHQ reopened its 12,500-square-foot physical space for members by reservation, with vigorous health and safety measures in place. Today, LMHQ is available to rent for meetings and events, with new limited capacities and following all City and State regulations. It is a great resource for those who have been working solely at home and could use some more space, or who need to collaborate with colleagues in a safe, distanced setting. With support from Con Edison, LMHQ continues to give local nonprofits a 25% discount. Thanks to Con Ed, we also have a Bright Ideas Grant that offers free meeting and event space to eligible nonprofits: meeting room space is available free of charge twice per month and the event space is available one weekday evening per month. LMHQ (LMHQ.nyc) is partially sustained by a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), which is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants program. 30 |
Alliance for Downtown New York Financial Statements (Dollars in thousands)
STATEMENT OF ACTIVITIES Year End June 30, 2020
Year End (a)
June 30, 2019
Support and Revenues Assessment
Programs, Contracts and Other
Total Support and Revenues Expenses Program Expenses Neighborhood Supplemental Services
Total Neighborhood Supplemental Services
Communications, Marketing and Promotion
Economic Development and Research
Total Program Expenses
Supporting Services Management and General Fundraising Total Support Services Total Expenses Increase in Net Assets
STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL POSITION Assets Cash and Cash Equivalents Short-Term Investments
Contract and Contributions Receivable
Accounts Payable and Accrued Expenses
Deferred Rent Expense
Property and Equipment
Net Assets Without donor restrictions With donor restrictions Total Net Assets Total Liabilities and Net Assets
(a) Amounts were summarized from financial statements audited by Condon O'Meara McGinty & Donnelly LLP, CPAs, dated November 9, 2020. (b) Amounts were summarized from financial statements audited by Skody Scot & Company, CPAs, dated October 25, 2019. Certain amounts were restated as part of a prior period adjustment recorded subsequent to the audit. (b) Other Neighborhood Supplemental Services include homeless outreach, horticulture, infrastructure and streetscape maintenance
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Ric Clark, Chair
Ross F. Moskowitz
Brookfield Asset Management
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Jeremy Moss Honorable Bill de Blasio Mayor of the City of New York
Honorable Gale A. Brewer Manhattan Borough President
Honorable Margaret S. Chin Council Member, City of New York
Betty Cohen Century 21 Department Stores
Fern Cunningham The Nielsen Company
K. Thomas Elghanayan TF Cornerstone Inc.
David V. Fowler The Bank of New York Mellon
Brett S. Greenberg Jack Resnick & Sons
Francis J. Greenburger Time Equities, Inc.
Daniel Haimovic Eastbridge Group
Thomas M. Hughes Residential Representative
Jonathan Iger The William Kaufman Organization Reverend Phillip A. Jackson
Dan Palino New Water Street Corp.
Edward V. Piccinich SL Green Realty Corp.
Peter A. Poulakakos Ahead Realty/HPH Hospitality Group
Cynthia C. Rojas Sejas S&P Global Market Intelligence
Joel Rosen GFI Hospitality LLC
William C. Rudin Rudin Management Company, Inc.
Frank J. Sciame F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.
Allan G. Sperling Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP
Brian R. Steinwurtzel GFP Real Estate
Honorable Scott M. Stringer Office of the Comptroller of the City of NY
Kent M. Swig Swig Equities, LLC
Matthew Van Buren CBRE Group, Inc.
Trinity Wall Street
Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur M.M.LaFleur
Stephen Lefkowitz Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Josh Marwell HarperCollins Publishers
Tammy Meltzer Manhattan Community Board 1
Brian Abrams Paul Albano Natalie Armstrong Adam Bernstein Denise Blackwell Ariana Branchini Renee Braunstein Andrew Breslau David Brice Onike Browne Nancy Cascella Michael Cook John Coyle Ron Dizon Edward Drivick Jessica Drucker Heather Ducharme Teresa Figario Rebecca Fishbein Melody Garcia Daniel Giacomazza Jarrod Grim Hans Guillaume Dave Harvin Sean Hayes Kristin Heise Carl Homward Jamel Homward Theresa Hottel Alice Itty Dwayne Jacobs Rebecca Jimenez Jihan Johashen Ulla Kaprelyants Michael Ketring Jessica Lappin Patrick Liang Elizabeth Lutz Joe Maggio Pedro Molina Alexandra Montalbano Joshua Nachowitz Ian Olsen Bathsheba Parker Taina Prado Mark Quinn Craig Raia Jason Rivera Anthony Rivetti Jeremy Schneider Richard Serrano Daria Siegel Kerwin Singh KellyAnne Tang Maria Tirado-Quinones Elissa Verrilli Justin Volz-Dizon Ron Wolfgang Jane Wolterding
IMAGE CREDITS: Kristin Heise – 1, 22, 25, 26 32, 25 istockphoto.com – 2 Ann-Sophie Fjello (AP Photography) – Cover, 6, 8, 13, 14, 17, 18, 21, 26, 29, 32 Brian Ack (AP Photography) – Cover, 8, 10, 15,
WRITING + EDITING: Andrew Breslau + Rebecca Fishbein – Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
ART DIRECTION + DESIGN: Bathsheba Parker – Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
NEW LOGO DESIGN: Applied
Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc. 120 Broadway, Suite 3340 New York, New York 10271 The mission of the Alliance for Downtown New York is to provide service, advocacy, research and information to advance Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century central business district for businesses, residents and visitors.