New incentives will insure Downtown remains the financial capital


By Eric Deutsch

Downtown’s revitalization is well underway, and a series of recent developments including a commercial incentives package and important capital projects, have made one thing crystal clear: Lower Manhattan is destined to retain its place as a vibrant, dynamic mixed-use neighborhood and the best place in New York to do business.

Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno recently developed a broad new incentives package that provides substantial benefits to businesses that sign leases in Lower Manhattan. The incentives offer remarkable savings for companies that move to Lower Manhattan. Businesses already based Downtown can also reap benefits if they make a long-term commitment to stay.

The program includes commercial rent tax exemptions and sales tax breaks on space build-outs and fit-outs. Additional assistance is also offered to businesses signing leases in 7 World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower, and companies moving from outside New York City could also be eligible for a $3,000 per employee per year tax credit.

The Downtown Alliance’s technical assistance program guides businesses and real estate brokers through the details and eligibility rules for the program. We have a dedicated team at the ready to provide expert advice to those who want to understand and take advantage of the new incentives. In conjunction with the Association for a Better New York and the Real Estate Board of New York, we’ve also created a comprehensive guide that outlines each of the different programs. For copies of the brochure or to reach our technical assistance department, please call (212) 732-2407.

These benefits, which were enacted in August, have already spurred interest in several Lower Manhattan properties, and we are confident they will continue to have a tremendous positive impact on the commercial real estate market Downtown.

Several significant capital projects are also underway in Lower Manhattan. On the World Trade Center site, construction of the world-class Calatrava PATH station has begun, with completion scheduled for 2009. This grand terminal will serve as an important public space, a critical transportation hub, and a retail center for the Downtown community. Construction of the Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Site memorial are both slated to begin this spring. The Fulton Street Transit Center, which will connect the maze of subway lines that currently converge at Fulton St. into a rationalized, centralized transit hub, is also under construction and expected to be completed in 2008.

This spring, the New York State Dept. of Transportation will complete the Route 9A Promenade South project. This $70 million project will dramatically improve vehicular and pedestrian conditions on West St., from Battery Place to West Thames St. The entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel will be rebuilt, as will wider sidewalks, pedestrian plazas, decorative plantings and a bikeway that links the Hudson and East River greenways.

In addition to these projects that are underway, the Downtown community is looking forward to the revitalization of the East River waterfront, which received a $150 million funding commitment earlier this year from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The plans call for improved lighting and pedestrian access, as well as new piers and retail development. These long-awaited improvements will be welcome additions to Downtown’s spectacular waterfront.

To help the community deal with the impacts of the construction associated with these and other major capital improvements, the Downtown Alliance has been working closely with the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. We continue to advocate for maintaining maximum pedestrian and vehicular access and open communication and outreach throughout the course of each project, as well as direct and prompt responses to other issues as they arise. We’re working hard with our partners in government to ensure that the Lower Manhattan community not only continues to operate, but thrives during this construction period.

Lower Manhattan’s revitalization is advancing. Armed with deep incentives and visible progress on critical projects throughout our neighborhood, we are ready to begin the next critical phase of attracting new companies to Lower Manhattan. As the new president of the Downtown Alliance, I am optimistic about Lower Manhattan’s future and excited to be a part of the renaissance of this unique neighborhood. I have no doubt that with these new incentives and exciting capital projects, Lower Manhattan will remain the financial capital of the world, the region’s premiere business district, and one of the city’s most diverse and dynamic neighborhoods.

Eric Deutsch is president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, which manages Lower Manhattan’s Business Improvement District.

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