Volume 21, Number 10 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | July 18 - 24, 2008
Small businesses need help
In an article about the stalled Fulton Street Transit Center in March, we told you about a tailor, William Saad, who was evicted from his office to build the train station and moved to Dey St., where construction problems subsequently forced him to close. Last week, we told you about Dib Reda, who had to move his clothing store, Stylz, to construction-riddled Fulton St. because of an M.T.A. eviction. Now he is waiting for city bureaucrats to clear an $8,000 check intended to ease the construction pain.
These are just two of too many hard luck small business stories in Lower Manhattan.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has finally begun a small business assistance program for shops hurt by construction projects. The L.M.D.C. deserves credit for investing $5 million in this program and, as we reported last week, for quickly recognizing problems with the application process. The corporation is working on a less complicated application.
But as we have said before, $5 million is not nearly enough and the program does not cover many businesses suffering because of 9/11. Strand bookstore, a neighborhood favorite, will soon close on Fulton St. in part because of the street’s necessary but interminable water main project. The Strand is not eligible for the L.M.D.C. program because it’s too big.
The L.M.D.C., which still has funds that can be tapped, the city, and the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, must devote a lot more time, thought and resources to helping small shops and businesses survive these rough construction years. The retail chains are sitting back ready to swoop in if officials ever get their act together and rebuild Downtown well, but meanwhile, hard working business owners who show their commitment to Lower Manhattan every day are struggling to make it to tomorrow.
A precious park addition
City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe had it right Wednesday at the opening of part of the Hudson River Park’s Tribeca section: Investing hundreds of millions of dollars in public money on parks takes political courage. It also takes wisdom.
The park raises property values along the waterfront and comes back to government in real estate taxes and in many other ways that are not easy to calculate. It won’t help balance state and city budgets next year, but it’s real monetary benefits will be seen for many years in the not so distant future.
We say this because this park section will still need about another $10 million next year to bring back the Tribeca piers to its former glory, and it will be an easy cut to make for any shortsighted legislator. We got a hint of how beautiful this section can be Wednesday — oh yes, by the way, go out and see and enjoy this new section between Laight St. and Pier 40 this summer and fall — and we want to make sure it is a beginning not an end.
Check out the four and half new acres of Downtown park space and show the bean counters how much they are needed and loved.