Money for Fulton St. facelift is not just a facade


By Sisi Wei

Since the water main project began on Fulton St. on June 23, 2007, business owners have seen construction six days a week with added occasional overnight construction. At the end of 2008 or the start of 2009, Fulton St. building and business owners may opt for even more construction — this time on their individual buildings.

After construction finishes on the World Trade Center memorial and the South Street Seaport, pedestrian traffic will increase significantly on Fulton St., said Seth Myers, project manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The increase in traffic has spurred city agencies to improve the appearance of Fulton and Nassau Sts., resulting in a storefront and building facade improvement program by the E.D.C. and the N.Y.C. Department of City Planning.

Once launched, the program may be the largest storefront improvement program across the country, said Ali Davis, another E.D.C. project manager, as she presented the project to the Financial District Committee of Community Board 1 on Sept. 3 with Myers and Keith O’Connor, the Lower Manhattan project manager for City Planning.

Eligible owners can apply for up to $275,000 in building or storefront construction services (not grants), depending how many tiers of the improvement program owners apply for.

The first tier deals with the basic storefront, giving store owners the chance to construct new signage, replace security gates and restore awnings. This tier provides up to $15,000 worth of services with no match requirement from the store owner.

The second tier has a more comprehensive storefront focus, offering up to $60,000 for improvements such as window replacements and new architectural lighting. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is funding the project, will match store and building owner investments two to one for second tier services. For owners to receive the full $60,000, they must pay E.D.C.’s contractor $30,000 up front.

Third tier facade restoration looks at the entire building from top to bottom. Improvements may include replacing upper story windows and restoring building linings. The program offers up to $200,000 in services for this tier, with the same matching requirements as tier two.

The L.M.D.C. has given $15 million for the project, which will continue for three years or until funding runs out, Davis said.

O’Connor stresses that the development project isn’t for uniformity, but rather to make every individual building the best it can be.

“This isn’t about having the same sign on every building,” he said. “This is about embracing what we see as a very unique Fulton and Nassau, which has the densest concentration of ground-level retail anywhere in Lower Manhattan.”

Davis hopes to start outreach to building and store owners by the end of the month. The E.D.C. is considering holding large scale outreach meetings as well as reaching out to owners individually or in small groups.

The storefront facade program is part of a three-part effort to make Fulton St. more appealing. In addition to offering improvement incentives to business owners, the L.M.D.C. is also funding improvements to plazas and nearby side streets.