Flatiron BID celebrates 10th Anniversary; Recounts Contributions to Flatiron Growth as a Neighborhood
- Tod Shapiro
- On June 8, 2016
Reported by Tod Shapiro and the Flatiron Hot! News Editorial Staff
I had the opportunity to represent Flatiron Hot! News and the NYC Seminar Center at the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership Annual Meeting, which marked 10 years of efforts to help improve and promote the neighborhood that we call home. The BID, which is financed by taxes and levies from the city as well as on area businesses and properties, offers services and amenities for the BID area, and has become a popular mechanism to augment regular city services (which are sometimes lacking) and improve the neighborhood. The Annual Meeting, which was hosted at Grey Advertising’s beautiful 200 Fifth Avenue offices, as is customary, reviewed the status of current and planned projects, BID finances, and gave BID members (including Flatiron Hot! News sponsor NYC Seminar Center) a chance to vote on the BID’s board members up for appointment, and vet the annual budget and projects and ask questions. Executive director Jennifer Brown and her intrepid staff invited area notables to address and educate our District’s occupants on items of current concern, and honored those who have been outstanding in working with our district in providing services for the community.BID Board Chair Greg Schenker welcomed the attendees and gave a quick rundown on BID business, taking note of the fact that the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership was one of the leaders of all the NYC BIDs, and ticked off the BID’s many accomplishments and its role in encouraging the growth of the neighborhood. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer was in attendance as well and gave a quick opening statement and congratulated the BID – and the neighborhood – on setting an example for all the other BIDs. She highlighted the on-going work on the upgrades of the Pedestrian Plazas, while making note of the services provided, specifically calling attention to the tech services (wi-fi, for example) that the BID has been instrumental in offering for the neighborhood. James Bulik, the BID Treasurer, made a quick presentation of the BID’s finances, and made available the past and future budget in line-item detail for everybody’s review.
Jennifer Brown quickly ticked off the coming year’s priorities – the ongoing design and capital planning for the permanent upgrade of the Pedestrian Plazas, which saw multiple workshops this past year, giving the community an opportunity to give input. She reviewed some of the services and programs that the neighborhood has seen come to fruition in the last 10 years – the free neighborhood wi-fi, the landscaping and plantings that adorn the District, the public programs and educational seminars sponsored on multiple occasions throughout the past several years, the sanitation and safety programs in place, as well as the PR and marketing efforts on behalf of the District, in the form of thousands of brochures and maps produced and distributed on a regular basis highlighting area businesses and establishments, an upgraded website and social media program that features all the best aspects of the area, and the coordination with other area civic groups and agencies, such as the Madison Square Park Conservancy, the Police Department, and the Mayor’s Office. Jennifer remarked on the booming commercial activity in the neighborhood, and how the District has become a mecca for high tech, food and hospitality industries and civic events, making note of the increasingly mixed and diversified combination of commercial and residential uses of the District. Jennifer had some striking before and after pics of the neighborhood, showing the very visible improvement in the District’s public facing spaces along 23rd Street and the Public Plazas, showing quite clearly the change in appearance owing very much to the BID’s efforts, and closed out her comments with the previewing for the audience of a new promotional video, available now to be viewed on the BID website, featuring an overview of the people, places, businesses, and events that make the District the trend setter it has become in New York City.
Building on the themes of the BID’s managers, two special guest speakers went on to elaborate on the District’s growth and continuing challenges. First, Gregg Bishop, NYC’s Commissioner of Small Business Services, gave a talk about the importance of small business and entrepreneurship to the District’s continuing growth, and of efforts by the city to help foster small business by streamlining city laws and regulations. He commented on the importance of Flatiron as a gathering point for high-tech business in NYC. Then, Mike Slattery, Senior VP of the Real Estate Board of New York gave a detailed and enlightening summary of the real estate market in the district. Mike gave a historical perspective on the change of real estate use in the city and in the district, highlighting the impact of a changing economy in terms of manufacturing and services and its effect on land use and real estate, especially in terms of the zoning laws. He called attention to the arrival and growth in the district of many office share and incubator sites, as well as a large increase in the number of hotels and restaurants servicing the population. He reviewed current trends in population growth, and showed some charts and graphs that tracked the tremendous change in our part of the city in that regard, specifically noting the growth in residential as compared to commercial use in the Flatiron District. His comments on the latest occupancy rates and per square foot rental charges in the neighborhood were stark evidence of just how far the District has come.
The venue of the Annual Meeting at Grey Advertising’s 200 Fifth Avenue site was emblematic of the growth and changes of the neighborhood. Grey Advertising’s cutting edge offices, with their open areas and beautifully appointed space, reside in the former Toy Center, which has been totally rebuilt to become a haven for high-tech, service-based industries and companies. Grey, an advertising leader, is a member of the BID’s Board, and has taken a leading role in highlighting the desirability of the neighborhood for advertising and digital media. Following the meeting, the BID’s members and neighborhood attendees took part in a business networking session arranged by the BID with food provided by Blue Smoke Restaurant on 200 Fifth’s excellent outdoor area, which offers a large, open air venue for business get-togethers and events of all types with a panoramic view of the surrounding district.
For those in the neighborhood who couldn’t make it to the BID Meeting, click here for easy review of the BID’s Financial Report and Annual Meeting materials, which are also available on the BID’s website, as is their own summary of the event. Or, feel free to check out our Flatiron Hot! News video clip below to get a sense of what it was all about. Again, for those of us who are long-term residents of Flatiron, including NYCSCC which has been in the neighborhood since 2000 at 71 West 23rd, it’s important to take note of the progress and efforts of the BID, and stay in touch with the important work being done and the issues confronting our area as they arise.
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