Volume 19 • Issue 9 | July 14- - 20, 2006

Alliance gets new V.P.

By Janet Kwon

Nicole LaRusso and her mother Maryellen have a special tie, beyond the obvious mother-daughter relationship. Both women will have witnessed the building or rebuilding of the World Trade Center from their office at 120 Broadway. Just this June, Nicole started her new position as the Downtown Alliance’s vice president of planning and economic development in the very building that her mother worked as an administrative assistant in the late 60s.

“It’s kind of ironic… an interesting coincidence,” LaRusso said.

Nicole LaRusso, 32, is filling a position that had been vacant for a year, as the Alliance got a new president, Eric Deutsch, and positions were shifted around and reevaluated. The Alliance manages the Finaicial District’s buisiness improvement district and is the largest BID in the city.

Deutsch and LaRusso met while working together in Senator Charles Schumer’s 2000 taskforce, “Group of 35.” The group evaluated and analyzed the economic and developmental needs of the business districts in Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, Harlem and the far West Side of Manhattan and put out a report that chiefly recommended a push of more office spaces in those areas.

However, post 9/11, some Downtown advocates argued the push to build offices on the far West Side would compete with Lower Manhattan rebuilding efforts. LaRusso said the focus has shifted to Downtown Manhattan. Although the Group of 35 was a one-time taskforce, individuals from the group, like LaRusso, have narrowed their priorities to rebuilding Lower Manhattan.

“My role here is primarily to serve as a liaison and coordinate with the various city and state agencies that are involved in a myriad of redevelopment projects in Lower Manhattan and to help put forward the voice of the business community,” LaRusso said in a telephone interview.

After Schumer’s taskforce disbanded, LaRusso said that she kept in touch with Deutsch while she was working at Appleseed, an economic consulting firm in Lower Manhattan, then briefly at Ernst & Young. Then she relocated to San Francisco to work at CB Richard Ellis Consulting, when Deutsch emailed her to inform her of an available position at the Alliance.

Although a New Jersey native, LaRusso certainly has roots in New York. She received a master’s degree in public administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and is now apartment hunting with her husband, Anthony Townsend, on the Lower East Side.


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