Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Robert W. Walsh this evening presented honors to eleven recipients of the 2004 New York City Neighborhood Development Achievement Awards at Gracie Mansion. The awards, established in honor of the late, former SBS Assistant Commissioner Barbara Wolff, are given to neighborhood organizations that have demonstrated excellence, partnership and creativity in enhancing New York City’s business environment and quality of life. Director of Community Affairs for Citibank Jacqueline Arrington, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Con Edison Eugene McGrath were also in attendance to present the awards; Con Edison and Citibank underwrote this year’s award ceremony.
“Neighborhoods are built by building great partnerships,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I am delighted to recognize the creative work of these fine organizations who have worked collaboratively with government to increase opportunities and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Tonight, we celebrate their achievements, both large and small, that have contributed to making New York City great.”
“When small businesses work together with the community to improve their neighborhoods, the results can be phenomenal,” said SBS Commissioner Walsh. “Today’s award recipients have each shown an exemplary spirit of teamwork and commitment that is a shining example to be replicated. SBS is committed to providing the support and leadership to local groups to make sure that each of our neighborhoods is an excellent place to live and do business.”
New York City’s business improvement districts, local development corporations and other local organizations nominated projects in six award categories listed below. Under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood Development Mark Newhouse, SBS administered the nomination, evaluation and selection process in collaboration with the selection committee of Jeff Finkle of the International Economic Development Council, Sharon Greenberger of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, Frances Resheshke of Con Edison,
Dr. Mitchell Moss of New York University, and Hector Ramirez of Citibank. The following are tonight’s awardees:
Community Development – Outstanding Achievement
Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park, once an abandoned riverside landfill and illegal dumpsite, now flourishes as a community jewel. Created in 1986 under the guidance of a coalition of artists and community members, the Park represents one of the best transformations of derelict City waterfront. It has become a renowned outdoor museum and public space shared by artists, residents, businesses and visitors alike and has created a fertile ground for attracting additional cultural development in Western Queens.
Stuyvesant Heights Condominiums (Bridge Street Development Corporation)
The Stuyvesant Heights Condominiums, completed in May 2004, now stand in place of an empty building. By the time the Bridge Street Development Corporation took on the Herculean task of restoring the 112-year-old Romanesque Revival/French Renaissance structure on 380 Lewis Avenue, it had been abandoned for over a decade. The yearlong project has produced eight light-filled, high-quality, affordable condominiums for low to moderate-income residents.
Economic Development – Outstanding Achievement
West Brighton Local Development Corporation
The West Brighton Local Development Corporation has served as the prime mover in the effort to bring Staten Island its first Business Improvement District (BID) on Forest Avenue, which expects to be fully operational by early 2005. The group’s extensive outreach efforts to mobilize business and property owners and educate the community on the benefits of a BID have galvanized support for the effort, whose boundaries include all properties along Forest Avenue between Hart Boulevard and Broadway.
Entrepreneurial Development Seminars for Spanish Speaking Business Owners – Queens Economic Development Corporation
Entrepreneurial Development Seminars for Spanish Speaking Business Owners, created by the Queens Economic Development Corporation, discovered a tremendous demand for foreign language business assistance. Drawing the participation of more than 30 local businesses, the seminars provided strategic guidance in four major areas: understanding and complying with City rules; using low-cost marketing strategies to increase sales; understanding City, State and Federal taxes for small businesses; and accessing traditional and alternative financing resources.
Promotions & Marketing – Outstanding Achievement
Represent the Reel: South Bronx Film & Video Festival – The Point Community Development Corporation
Represent the Reel was created in 1997 to provide Bronx residents and aspiring filmmakers with an artistic outlet in their community. The Festival speaks to the heart of The Point’s mission to leverage the indigenous cultural assets of the South Bronx in an effort to generate economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for area residents, attract neighborhood investment and diversify the local economy.
River to River Festival – Alliance for Downtown New York
The River to River Festival, created in the wake of 9/11 by the Alliance for Downtown New York, have played a powerful role in the recovery of downtown. From May through September, 500 free events—featuring music, dance, theatre and other cultural fare—are promoted and staged in Downtown’s best outdoor venues, heritage museums and other key destinations. The Festival has brought over 1.2 million people to Lower Manhattan in each of its first two years, infusing the area with shoppers and visitors.
Brooklyn Designs – Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Brooklyn Designs, launched in 2003 by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, features Brooklyn’s best contemporary home and office furnishing designers over the course of a three-day exhibition. The inaugural show drew 30 exhibitors and attracted over 3,000 visitors. Praised in the media and featured in several trade and consumer magazines, the event grew for the 2004 show, adding a second location that provided enough space for 45 designers and a crowd of more than 5,200 visitors.
Public Spaces – Outstanding Achievement in Creative Programming
Bryant Park Reading Room & HBO/Bryant Park Summer Film Festival – Bryant Park Restoration Corporation
The Bryant Park Reading Room, funded by HSBC Bank US and opened in 2003, offers an inviting and intimate outdoor space where the public can read and relax. Open seven days a week between May and October, the Reading Room features a large collection of donated books, magazines and newspapers for all ages; last summer, over 14,000 users took advantage of the new space. The HBO/Bryant Park Film Festival, which started 11 years ago, attracts more than 10,000 people to each of its Monday night film screenings, is one of the City’s signature seasonal events.
Community Leadership – Outstanding Achievement
Portable Benefits Network – Working Today – Sara Horowitz, Executive Director
The Portable Benefits Network, launched in 2001, is an initiative of Working Today, a nonprofit founded by Sara Horowitz in 1995 to represent the needs and concerns of New York’s growing independent workforce. The program offers low-cost health, life and disability insurance and other benefits to independent workers who maintain their benefits as they move from job to job or assignment to assignment. An active outreach program in 2003 resulted in a 300% increase in the number of covered workers, expanding membership to over 4,000—62% of whom are low income.
Preservation & Re-Adaptive Use – Outstanding Achievement
Vento Trattoria – B.R. Guest Restaurants
Vento Trattoria, Stephen Hanson’s new restaurant in the heart of the City’s meatpacking district, captures that rare combination of new and old that historic preservationists love. The owners and architects worked closely with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to complete renovations to the historic structure, originally built as a factory in 1849. From restoring the historic frieze, metal crown molding and fascia above the first floor to replacing and repairing bricks to match original conditions, Vento’s architects created a fresh and beautiful addition to the neighborhood.
Muddy Cup Coffee House
Muddy Cup Coffee House opened on September 1, 2001 in the location of the legendary Weinmann’s Bakery at 388 Van Duzer Street in Stapleton, Staten Island. In the three years since, the “Cup” has become a prime destination. With its unique, inviting space that preserves many elements of the original bakery, including a brick wall that serves as a gallery space, the Muddy Cup developed into a neighborhood centerpiece for arts and entertainment. The “Cup” has served as a venue for a wide range of performances and its success has begun to catalyze additional investment in the neighborhood as well.