Downtown Alliance Throws Lifeline to Downtown Restaurants and Retailers
This iconic array of small shops on Fulton Street evokes the changing retail landscape Downtown, where small businesses have been buffeted by rising rents and cut-throat competition from e-commerce giants, along with the recent economic downturn triggered by the pandemic coronavirus. The Alliance is providing consulting services to help shopkeepers transform their retail environments.
The Downtown Alliance is inaugurating twin projects that aim to boost Lower Manhattan small businesses, which are struggling in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus and the economic downturn it has sparked.
In the first of these, the Alliance has teamed with BentoBox, an e-commerce platform that creates individualized online tools for restaurants, so that Downtown eateries can set up their own web-based ordering interfaces. This may prove to be a crucial lifeline for restaurants that have become almost entirely dependent on delivery-services apps, such as Seamless, which claim for themselves between 20 and 40 percent of the price of each order they handle. Such a levy is onerous even in the best of times, when profit margins earned by restaurants are chronically slim. But in the current business environment, forking over more than third of gross revenue to a middleman begins to look like a shortcut to bankruptcy. Enabling Lower Manhattan cafes to circumvent such a tithe may help at least some of them remain viable.
“Our program with BentoBox will eliminate the need for third-party services that eat into restaurant profits,” says Alliance president Jessica Lappin. “Our local eateries, which already operate on razor-thin margins, are facing a once-in-a-generation crisis. This will empower New Yorkers to better support the local favorites that need our help.”
Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance: “COVID has foisted a whole new set of demands on all storefront businesses. We hope to provide timely guidance for stressed entrepreneurs on everything from smart changes to their physical spaces to proper communication with customers.”
To apply for the Streetsense Technical Assistance Program, small businesses must be operating and located within the boundaries of the Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District, roughly from Murray Street to the Battery and South Street to West Street.
A small business is defined as having fewer than 30 full-time-equivalent employees (as of March 1, 2020), and gross annual revenue of less than $3 million. An eligible firm is required to have a current lease, or an option to renew, for a ground-floor storefront business within the Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District through December 31, 2020. (The online application will be available, starting on Monday, August 10, at DowntownNY.org. Consultations with Streetsense will take place between August and October 2020.)
The Downtown Alliance will publish Streetsense’s pandemic survival tool kits online on August 14. A webinar to discuss the restaurant and bar tool kit will be live Thursday, August 20, followed by the retail webinar on Friday, August 21.
A row of storefronts of Hanover Square is emblematic of the shifting ground in Lower Manhattan, where small businesses face ruin in the current economic slowdown — distress compounded by burden that restaurants face when forced to depend on delivery apps that siphon away more than one-third of their revenue. The Alliance hopes to give eateries a way around this dilemma.
Both programs (which exclude national chains, franchises and businesses that have more than five locations in New York City) are part of a continuing effort by the Alliance to support businesses that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. The Alliance is actively working to help Lower Manhattan’s business community recover from the crisis by awarding rental assistance grants, educating local-business owners about available funding opportunities, convening industry-specific working groups, communicating which businesses are open to residents, and spotlighting essential workers who are making a difference. Efforts will continue throughout the year with dedicated marketing initiatives to help safely open doors and turn the lights back on across the neighborhood.
These undertakings follow the Alliance’s Small Business Rental Assistance Grant program, which is giving away $800,000 to help to local shops struggling with the economic contraction triggered by the health crisis. That project reprised similar efforts that sought to help Downtown small businesses in years past. In 2012, the Alliance spearheaded the Lower Manhattan: Back to Business Small Business Grant Program, which offered cash support to local retailers, restaurants and service providers affected by Hurricane Sandy. Similar, earlier programs were launched by Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, to combat the local malaise that afflicted small firms in the following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and again during the economic downturn that began in 2008.
When it’s not aiding small businesses during times of crisis, the mission of the Downtown Alliance is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. In furtherance of these goals, the Alliance operates the Business Improvement District that covers the area south of Chambers Street, and also provides local security and trash pickup. Among the services provided by the Alliance that Lower Manhattan residents especially prize is the Downtown Connection shuttle, which ferries passengers (free of charge) between more than 30 local stops that link residential areas with business and shopping districts, as part of a partnership with the Battery Park City Authority. The Alliance and its sister organization, the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, also produce research, information, and advocacy designed to brand Lower Manhattan as a global model of a 21st century central business district.
Watch 30 seconds in the Oculus
‘W’ As in ‘Wave Goodbye’
Another Downtown Luxury Hotel Closes Its Doors
Lower Manhattan’s W Hotel, a 56-story trophy building erected amid the wave of giddy real estate speculation that followed the terrorists attack of September 11, 2001, then was nearly shuttered by the economic downturn of 2008, has succumbed to the latest recession.
The upscale lodging accommodation, which closed temporarily at the outset of the pandemic coronavirus, has announced that it will never reopen, according to legal notices filed with Albany regulators.
This is the latest in a wave of hotel implosions in Lower Manhattan in recent months. To read more…
To the editor,
If you’ve received a Notice of Arrears and/or Summons from Gateway.
We’re gathering names to get group representation to fight Gateway on this unfair attack, which was obviously prepared well in advance of the eviction moratorium expiring. We’re not alone, there are other Gateway folks going through this. New York Stronger Together.
Nearly one-third of all known exonerations involve crimes that were later found to have never occurred. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people spend time in prison every day for fictional crimes. Join former New York City public defender and professor of justice studies Jessica S. Henry and Innocence Project State Campaigns Director Michelle Feldman to discuss the flaws in the criminal justice system that allow no-crime wrongful convictions to regularly occur. Touching upon the major themes of Jessica’s book, Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened, the conversation will dig into the scope, frequency, significance, types, and causes of no-crime convictions as well as highlight the systems that perpetuate these injustices. It will wrap up with a Q&A session to address your most pressing criminal justice system questions. Free.12pm. LMHQ
A weekly bagpipe tribute honors those who died on 9/11 as well as those who are sick or who have died from exposure to hazards and toxins in the aftermath of 9/11. Bagpipers play near the 9/11 Memorial Glade. Free. 1:30pm.
Pieces of China is an online series that tells the story of China, one object at a time. In this episode, bask in the fragrance of the white magnolia, native to China’s southwestern Yunnan province, with Zhang Mei, founder of WildChina travel company. For Zhang, a native of Yunnan, the flower offers a glimpse into one of China’s most sociologically and biologically diverse regions and a window onto the struggle between development and the loss of cultural heritage not only in Yunnan, but throughout China. Free. Noon. China Institute.
In the summer of 1948, amateur folklorist Ben Stonehill recorded more than 1,000 songs from Holocaust refugees who were being housed temporarily in the lobby of the Hotel Marseilles on New York’s Upper West Side. Stonehill’s efforts preserved for posterity a rich repertoire of songs in Yiddish as well as Polish, Czech, and Hebrew. The recordings are now being disseminated on the web by Yiddish scholar Miriam Isaacs through a partnership with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Join us for this special online multimedia program, in which Isaacs will reveal the inside story of Ben Stonehill’s heroic project, and share some of the remarkable performances Stonehill captured on wire recordings. Additionally, special guest musician Vladimir Fridman will perform songs from the Stonehill archive. $10 suggested donation. 2pm. Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
Just six months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington and the new American Army sat on the verge of utter destruction by the banks of the Delaware River. Rather than submit to defeat, Washington and his small band of soldiers crossed the ice-choked Delaware River and attacked the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey on the day after Christmas. He followed up the surprise attack with successful actions along the Assunpink Creek and at Princeton. In this online lecture, Mark Maloy will discuss the stunning military campaign that allowed Washington to turn the tables, and breathe life into the dying cause for liberty during the Revolutionary War. Free. 6:30pm. Fraunces Tavern Museum.
Federal Report Foresees More Frequent Flooding for Lower Manhattan
Flooding at the Battery (seen here during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy) may become a once-every-three-days event in decades ahead, according to a new federal report.
A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal scientific agency responsible for study of oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere, predicts that Lower Manhattan will in the next 12 months experience between double and triple the number of flooding days that it did in 2000.
The report, an annual study compiled by NOAA, is titled, “2019 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding with a 2020 Outlook”. It paints a grim picture of what climate change (especially rising sea level) is likely to do to coastal communities throughout the United States, noting that, “NOAA tide gauges are measuring rapid changes in coastal flooding along U.S. coastlines due to [relative sea level, or RSL] rise.
Need a safe and breezy break from your apartment? Several cruise operators have reopened in North Cove and are offering opportunities to get out on the water, including Tribeca Sailing, Ventura, and Classic Harbor Line. All cruise operators are adhering to social distancing guidelines; check individual websites for details.
Bill Would Impede Easing Restrictions on Use of Health Facilities
A bill recently ratified by the State Assembly aims to make less likely any future reprise of the controversial 2014 sale of Rivington House, which served for decades as an HIV/AIDS care facility. The Lower East Side building was acquired by real estate speculators, who paid $28 million—a fraction of its market value—because of a deed restriction that committed the building to use as a clinic.
One Month Later, Election Results Are Official (Sort Of…)
Slightly more than a month after the contested primary between Grace Lee ( left) and Yuh-Line Niou (right) for the Democratic Party nomination to represent Lower Manhattan in the State Assembly, something resembling a final result is available.
In the hours before dawn on Wednesday morning, NYPD officers in riot gear swept through the pedestrian plaza at the corner of Centre and Chambers Streets (between City Hall and the Municipal Building) and forcibly removed more than 100 protestors who had been camped there since early June, under the rallying cry of “Occupy City Hall,” to demonstrate their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Later that morning, the Broadsheet spoke to a group from the encampment, who (using first names or pseudonyms) reflected on their time within the improvised commune they had come to call “Abolition Park.”
Thursday Meeting Reviewed Resiliency Plans for Northern Battery Park City
On Thursday, July 23, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and Community Board 1 (CB1) co-hosted an online public meeting focused on the North Battery Park City Resiliency Project.
The meeting was a follow-on to a public discussion held last February, at which preliminary options and design concepts were reviewed by the BPCA, along with the team of engineers and architects who will be conceiving the measures intended to make the northern edge of the community resistant to sea-level rise, climate change, and future extreme-weather events.
Finalists Announced in Design Competition to Improve Pedestrian Access to Brooklyn Bridge
The City Council and the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) have named the shortlist of contenders in a contest that aims incubate fresh ideas for better pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge.
AD 25 – Guangwu claims the throne as Chinese emperor, restoring the Han dynasty after the collapse of the short-lived Xin dynasty.
1100 – Henry I is crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
1583 – Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what is now St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
1620 – The Mayflower departs from Southampton, England, carrying would-be settlers, on its first attempt to reach North America; it is forced to dock in Dartmouth when its companion ship, the Speedwell, springs a leak.
1735 – Freedom of the press: New York Weekly Journal writer John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, on the basis that what he had published was true.
1861 – American Civil War: In order to help pay for the war effort, the United States government levies the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861 (3% of all incomes over US$800; rescinded in 1872).
1861 – The United States Army abolishes flogging.
1884 – The cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty is laid on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island).
1914 – In Cleveland, Ohio, the first electric traffic light is installed.
1926 – Harry Houdini performs his greatest feat, spending 91 minutes underwater in a sealed tank before escaping.
1962 – Actress Marilyn Monroe is found dead from a drug overdose.
1981 – President Ronald Reagan fires 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers who ignored his order for them to return to work.
79 BC – Tullia, Roman daughter of Cicero (d. 45 BC)
1681 – Vitus Bering, Danish explorer (d. 1741)
1930 – Neil Armstrong, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut, first man on the moon (d. 2012)
824 – Heizei, Japanese emperor (b. 773)
1729 – Thomas Newcomen, English engineer, invented the eponymous Newcomen atmospheric engine (b. 1664)
1881 – Spotted Tail, American tribal chief (b. 1823)
2019 – Toni Morrison, Author, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Nobel laureate (b. 1931).
Edited from various sources including Wikipedia,and other media outlets