Volume 18 • Issue 8 | July 15-21, 2005

Editorial

A decade of service to Lower Manhattan

Carl Weisbrod was sitting in his Downtown Alliance office nearly four years ago without a landline or computer server. Rescue workers were still hoping to find survivors at the World Trade Center site while acrid smoke and chemicals hung heavy in the air. The west side of Downtown was closed off to the public. Like virtually everyone else in Lower Manhattan and many around the world, Weisbrod was shaken, but unlike most others, he had a clear vision of what Downtown needed to recover economically.

The reason we are now recalling Weisbrod’s view during that September meeting with us is because he has just left his job as president of the Alliance of Downtown New York to begin running Trinity Church’s real estate division, a Lower Manhattan real estate powerhouse with about 6 million feet of office space. It’s worth reflecting on his accomplishments at the Alliance and at the same time wishing him the best in his new position as he begins this week.

Weisbrod became the Alliance’s first president in 1995 and there are many highlights in his record, but first and foremost is the business improvement district’s response to 9/11. The BID pressed the city to reopen streets as quickly as possible so that businesses and residents could begin repairing their lives. Weisbrod realized Downtown small businesses were in desperate need of help, and quickly. The BID secured a $37 million private grant that helped about 1,000 small shops stay afloat while government business grant programs slowly worked their way through the bureaucratic channels.

One of the small businesses Weisbrod assisted was the Downtown Express, which made the decision shortly after 9/11 to publish weekly, from bi-weekly, to try to help local residents in a disaster zone stay informed of the fast moving developments of the aftermath. Weisbrod helped finance the advertiser subsidy program, which enabled small advertisers to market their services and to rebuild customer lists, and allowed our newspaper to continue to publish weekly during some very sparse economic times. We are grateful for this creative and timely assistance.

It is a testament to his diplomatic skills that Weisbrod leaves his job with few enemies. He developed a good relationship with Downtown residents and Community Board 1. C.B.1 and the Alliance each became stronger working together.

The Alliance helped turn Lower Manhattan into the city’s fastest growing residential area by encouraging and publicizing incentives to convert obsolete offices to apartments. The continued residential growth post-9/11 is a needed hopeful sign for Downtown’s future.

In 10 years, the Alliance has become such an integral part of our lives every day with the most visible examples being the red-suited security officers/goodwill ambassadors on our streets, the free shuttle buses, and the River to River festival every summer. The strong team Weisbrod has hired deserves much credit too.

We are comforted that Weisbrod will still be involved with Manhattan’s southern tip, remaining on the board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and joining the Alliance’s board.

More of Weisbrod’s attention will be on another important Downtown neighborhood, Hudson Square, where Trinity’s real estate holdings are concentrated. Trinity hopes to spearhead a BID there. Weisbrod has already shown how effective BIDs can be. He Weisbrod will help make a new neighborhood into a better place to work and live — we believe that because we saw him do it once before.

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