Volume 17 • Issue 37 | February 11 - 17, 2005

An Alliance that has lasted ten years

Downtown Express photo by Dave Sanders
Robert Douglass, chairperson of the Downtown Alliance, left, accepted a commemorative clock from Carl Weisbrod, Alliance president, at a party celebrating the group’s ten-year anniversary.

The Alliance for Downtown New York celebrated it’s ten-year anniversary Monday with a party at the Marriott Financial Center.

The Alliance, which manages the city’s largest business improvement district, provides red-suited security and sanitation officers for most of the area south of City Hall and east of Battery Park City, promotes Lower Manhattan, and has been a leader in the efforts to help Downtown businesses recover from the economic aftershocks of 9/11.

Carl Weisbrod, the Alliance’s only president, said the Downtown economy is still too soft, but with plans to redevelop Lower Manhattan on track, it’s a lot further along than could have been expected at the end of 2001. “We would have accepted that joyously,” Weisbrod said of the current situation. “We’ve come a long way since [Sept. 11, 2001]. We have a long way to go.”

The BID has a $13 million operating budget funded mostly from property owners in the district. Weisbrod said two of his group’s post-9/11 efforts he is most proud of are the $37 million small business grant and loan program it secured with Seedco that helped 1,000 businesses before many of the government aid began and the River to River concert festival that “brought life excitement and joy back to Lower Manhattan.”

The Alliance was formed at the beginning of 1995 to help a stagnant Downtown economy revive. The group has had unusual stability with only one chairperson, Robert Douglass, who was honored at Monday’s event, and one president, Weisbrod.

The other parts of the Alliance’s history Weisbrod is particularly proud of is the free Connection shuttle bus linking Downtown’s East and West sides, the efforts to landmark, repave and revitalize the Stone Street Historic District, and an aggressive lobbying campaign to improve Downtown’s transportation system. He was happy that President Bush, in a budget proposal Monday, included a $2 billion tax transfer to help build a rail link between Lower Manhattan, JFK Airport and the Long Island Rail Road.

Since the terrorist attack, the Alliance has also strengthened its ties to residents and Weisbrod expects that to continue. “We’ve had a good, strong working relationship with the community,” he said. “The vast, vast, vast majority of the time we are in complete agreement with the community board and most of the civic groups Downtown.”

— Josh Rogers


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