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PR- 094-05
March 10, 2005


Mayor Bloomberg's prepared remarks are below. Please check against delivery:

Thank you, John, and good afternoon, everyone.

Just one week from today, John, and Steve Spinola, and every other good Hibernian in New York will be celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.  We’re all a little bit Irish on March 17th.

The approach of St. Patrick’s Day means that spring can’t be far behind—and I for one will be glad to see this winter end. Not only has all the snow removal been a budget-buster.  It’s just been plain cold.  In fact, I was in Brooklyn the other day, and it was so cold the lawyers on Court Street had their hands in their own pockets.

But enough about the winter.  In reality, New Yorkers have every reason to be in a sunny frame of mind.

Because today — one day short of 42 months after 9/11 — our economy has surged back, and is growing stronger.

That has been a result of our Administration’s efforts to create jobs and opportunity in all five boroughs.  And although we’ve made tremendous progress, this is no time to let up. 

From the start, we’ve pursued a strategy with three key elements:  Making New York more livable, more economically diverse, and more business-friendly. 

By continuing to follow that strategy, we’ll succeed in building a City of Opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Livability starts with safety.  It’s fundamental to creating opportunity.  And today New Yorkers are safer than we’ve been in modern memory.  We’ve driven crime 71% lower than it was 12 years ago, and nearly 23% lower than it was four years ago. 

During 2004, murders fell to the lowest level since 1963 — and they’re down another 17% so far this year.

In short, throughout our Administration, we have continued to drive crime down and keep New York the nation’s safest large city.

 And keep in mind that we’ve accomplished this at the same time that we’ve committed 1,000 officers exclusively to intelligence and counter-terrorism duties, and posted some of our best detectives to cities halfway around the world.

When I helped dedicate the new memorial to the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing last month, I said that we paid an awful price for not learning the lessons of that attack — and we can’t afford to re-learn them another time.  The human cost is just too high.

Last week’s reports about the drawing of Grand Central Station that Spanish authorities recovered in their investigation of the Madrid train bombings reminded us all why NYPD’s intelligence and counter-terrorism efforts remain a vital part of our commitment to keeping New Yorkers safe. 

Many other City agencies play a role in that effort as well.  In fact, today our Office of Emergency Management is starting a three-year study with the Department of Homeland Security of what could conceivably result from the discharge – accidental or intentional – of harmful gases into our air.

Our commitment to protecting New York also extends to fire safety.  During 2004, fire deaths fell to an 85-year low.  And fatalities among pedestrians and motorists were also the lowest since 1910.

Livability involves more than just safety, and New York’s livability is improving in other important respects as well.  Our streets are the cleanest they’ve been in 30 years. 

And we’re on course to complete the city’s biggest affordable housing initiative since the mid-1980s — a $3 billion, five-borough commitment to build and preserve affordable housing for 200,000 New Yorkers.

Events and places that are entertaining, stimulating, and creative help make a city livable, too.  That defines the best in urban living.  And it embodies the spirit of New York. 

For proof, just look at the hundreds of thousands who flocked to our city last month from around the globe to see “The Gates.”

Throughout the city, hotel occupancy rates were well-above their normal levels during what’s usually a slow time of the year. 

Restaurants throughout the city were packed; waiters told reporters that it was “like Christmas in February.”  Attendance at museums, cultural attractions, and Broadway shows skyrocketed.  Stores catering to tourists reported brisk sales. 

In fact, “The Gates” may have been saffron—but they meant “green” for a lot of New Yorkers.  We estimated that “The Gates” generated $254 million in economic activity. 

But what was impossible to measure was the powerful message that “The Gates” sent to people around the world:  That New York City is safe, exciting, and eager to embrace and welcome people from every corner of the globe. 

That’s why the world came here to see “The Gates” — and we’re always ready to welcome the world back.  In fact, we’re very hopeful that in July, the International Olympic Committee will select the world’s second home to hold the world’s greatest sporting event: the Summer Games in 2012. 

No one can dispute that the Olympics would have a tremendous impact on New York.  They would generate some 120,000 jobs and have a $12 billion impact on our economy.

And after what the IOC Evaluation Commission said while they were here last month, there can no longer be any doubt.  Their message was clear: no Sports and Convention Center, no Olympics: End of story.  You can’t have it both ways; if you’re opposed to one, you’re opposed to the other.
I could not have been more pleased than I was earlier this week when Congressman Charles Rangel — the dean of New York’s Congressional delegation — added his voice to those calling for construction of the Sports and Convention Center.

And this is not just about the Olympics; without the Sports and Convention Center we will remain unable to compete for many major, job-producing conventions and trade shows.

Every analysis shows that the Sports and Convention Center will make a big profit for the taxpayers of New York City and State.

The City’s Independent Budget Office puts the figure at $900 million for the City and State over 30 years.  Our estimate is $1.4 billion.  These are the funds to improve City services and pay our municipal workers.   

The municipal unions that oppose the stadium need to realize that without new tax revenues, we won't be able to afford as big a raise for our workforce as we’d like to have.

Those who say we would do better with commercial and residential development over the rail yards are ignoring what we have already accomplished in the surrounding area.

On the Far West Side, we just completed the largest rezoning in the City’s history.  We will make $2.8 billion in critical infrastructure improvements, including the first extension of the City subway system in two decades - at no cost to the MTA, because the City is paying for it. 

We will also create more than 20 acres of new parks and open space, 24 million square feet of commercial space, and 14,000 apartments, including thousands of affordable units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.
In fact, over the last three years, we’ve embarked on the most ambitious and targeted re-zoning program New York has seen in more than 40 years.  We recognize that New York businesses need room to grow.

And on the Far West Side and in Downtown Brooklyn, our rezonings have created potential commercial space equivalent to half of downtown Boston! 

Then take into account the pending rezonings of Greenpoint-Williamsburg and West Chelsea, and that gives you the potential for enough housing for 60,000 New Yorkers — more than half the population of Albany. 

These rezonings will also produce jobs in all five boroughs.  230,000 permanent new jobs will be generated by the rezoning of the Far West Side. 

There will be 18,000 permanent new jobs created by Brooklyn’s rezoning - and thousands more jobs produced by other rezonings, too. 

And on the Far West Side alone, the net return in tax revenues will be $60 billion to the City and State over 30 years.  

Now, some of my critics say I am “Manhattan-centric.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, I challenge any of them to name an Administration in this city’s history that has made the kind of commitment to safety, schools, improving the quality of life, and economic development outside Manhattan that ours has.

Just look at the record, starting with our reductions in crime, which have spanned all five boroughs.  Over the last four years, murder in the Bronx is down 52%. Burglary in Queens is down 30%.  And auto theft on Staten Island is down 54%.  

Then there’s education.  Better than 85% of the nearly 35,000 new classroom seats we have created over the last two years have been in the boroughs outside Manhattan, and nearly 95% of the seats in our new capital plan will be.

More than two-thirds of the 65,000 housing units in our affordable housing initiative are or will be outside Manhattan.

 This spring, we’ll launch an historic, five-year, $219 million capital campaign to rebuild parks in the Bronx — the largest expansion and improvement of parks in any borough in New York in 70 years. 

The most dramatic improvements in street cleanliness in the city have occurred in such communities as Bushwick, Highbridge, Elmhurst, and Corona.

Given all that, it should be no surprise that over the last four years, the greatest increases in residential property values have taken place, in this order by borough, in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens (where they’ve appreciated by 60%); then the Bronx; and last--Manhattan.

Our strategy for making New York more economically diverse and more business-friendly also involves a broad array of economic development projects, and $2 billion in investments, in all five boroughs.  We’re putting our money where our mouth is.

Here’s the evidence.  Last Thursday, for example, along with our partners in State government, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Forest City Ratner that sets the stage for building the Atlantic Yards project.

It will be the biggest development outside Manhattan in the city’s history.  The City and State will each make $100 million in infrastructure improvements in this area.

In return, this $2.5 billion project will create 8,500 permanent new jobs, 4,000 mixed-income apartments, and substantial new commercial, retail, and open space. 

The Atlantic Yards will be the capstone of the Brooklyn Renaissance.  And it will be the home of the first major league sports team to play in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left 47 years ago.

Then two days ago, we unveiled a $27 million plan to make Hunts Point a better place to live, work, and do business.  It involves everything from repaving streets to creating new waterfront parks. 

It complements our $85 million investment in the nation’s largest wholesale seafood market, opening in Hunts Point this spring.  It will be an incredible state-of-the-art facility that is 1,300 feet long — long enough to hold the Empire State Building set on its side. 

We’ve also launched “Hunts Point Works,” which will train hundreds of local residents for the new jobs coming to Hunts Point.  Because a rising tide really must lift all boats.

And that’s just in the last week.  Here’s what else we’ve done since the first of this year.

We’ve selected the consultants who will guide redevelopment of Staten Island’s Homeport.  That’s the first step toward beginning the $66 million in capital improvements that will bring new housing, open space, business investment, and jobs to the Homeport.  

We’ve signed the lease giving the City control of the future site of the new cruise ship terminal at Red Hook.  That project will produce 600 permanent new Brooklyn-based jobs by the end of the year. 

We’ve broken ground for an expansion of one of the most successful Marriott Hotels in the nation — the one in Downtown Brooklyn.  It will result in another 100 permanent new jobs.  And by 2006, we expect it to be joined by another new Marriott that will also produce hundreds of new jobs.  That hotel will be in Harlem, a community that hasn’t had a hotel in 40 years, and is now getting two.   

We signed into law new tax incentives to encourage film and television production in New York — a $5 billion a year industry that supports 100,000 jobs from catering to construction in every corner of our city.  We’ve got an aggressive approach to serving that industry, and it’s working; today, five new television pilots are being made in New York City. 

Steiner Studios, which was attracted to the Brooklyn Navy Yard by the $70 million in infrastructure improvements that we are making there, has opened the biggest soundstage on the East Coast.  

But even that hasn’t put a glut on New York’s film production market.  Today, Steiner and the city’s other two major film production centers in Queens — Silvercup and Kaufman-Astoria Studios — are all fully booked. 

During the last few weeks, we’ve also unveiled the design for a new $36 million, 300-seat theater that will be part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music complex.  Built with a combination of public and private dollars, it will help anchor the new BAM Cultural District.

And we’ve launched a comprehensive citywide industrial policy.  It will establish new industrial business zones in neighborhoods ranging from Bathgate to Long Island City to East New York.  Along with a package of tax incentives we’re asking the Legislature to adopt, this initiative is designed to preserve and expand manufacturing, warehousing, and related businesses that account for half a million jobs in our city.

And that’s just what we’ve done since in the two and a half months since this January 1st!  

If you looked at the previous years of our Administration, you’d see that we’ve also established new Business Improvement Districts in every borough, including the first one on Staten Island, that we’ve created a Local Development Corporation to lead the revitalization of Coney Island, and that we’ve broken a decades-old logjam in the South Bronx and cleared the way for the new $300 million Bronx Gateway Center, a retail development that will bring 2,000 permanent new jobs to the community.

Now, here’s my point:  From Day One right up to today, our Administration has had a five-borough economic development strategy. Because to ensure our long-term prosperity, we’ve got to reduce our reliance on Wall Street. 

But I also want to be clear that we’re also working on an essential task.  It’s one that REBNY has been a leader in for the last three and a half years:  Rebuilding Lower Manhattan, and reinventing it as a true 24-hour commercial and residential downtown. 

We outlined that as our vision for Lower Manhattan’s future back in December 2002—and we’ve moved ahead on virtually every major element of that vision.

The first phase of our effort was about short-term recovery and long-term planning.  We used City, State, and Federal emergency incentives to stabilize the tenant base.  We made immediate improvements to streets and open spaces downtown. 

And we planned infrastructure improvements for the World Trade Center site and the rest of Lower Manhattan.  We’ve created an exciting plan for the WTC site that is moving ahead on schedule.

Those efforts have led such major employers as Goldman Sachs, HIP, and Morgan Stanley to commit or recommit to Lower Manhattan.  They’ve produced a Downtown commercial vacancy rate that continues to shrink.

And they’ve set the stage for next phase of rebuilding Lower Manhattan.  It will involve realizing — with the help of funding from LMDC — our long-term plans, and revitalizing Lower Manhattan’s commercial sector.  The goal is to ensure Downtown’s future as a central business district. 

Lower Manhattan will continue to be the home of a growing and vibrant residential core.  But it’s critically important that we preserve and enhance the strength of the Downtown commercial core – the origin of New York’s place as the financial capital of the world.

That’s why we’re exploring new incentives for companies to move to or remain in Lower Manhattan.  We’re continuing to discuss ideas with employers, developers, and other Downtown leaders – and we’ll be announcing details soon.

We’ve almost completed a concept plan for the East River waterfront from the Battery to Chinatown.  Moving the Fulton Fish Market to Hunts Point will not only bring jobs to that community; it’s also instrumental to reviving Downtown’s waterfront.  And we’ve also undertaken an ambitious revitalization of the area around Greenwich Street South, the Fulton Corridor, and Chinatown.

Then there’s the single most critical element in Lower Manhattan’s future as a center of global commerce:  the rail link to JFK and Long Island.  It’s a big project that requires a new tunnel under the East River… but we’re not shying away from big projects. 

We already have a half-billion dollar commitment from the Port Authority.  Most importantly, the President has included a $2 billion trade-in of unused tax incentives to be used for the rail link project in his budget. 

That was the result of a lot of hard work by the City, Governor Pataki and his staff, the LMDC, and the business and civic communities – especially John Zuccotti and Steve Spinola. 

New York has a hardworking and dedicated Congressional delegation, in both houses and on both sides of the aisle. 

We’ve got a great team - and it’s going to work together to make the President’s proposal become law, and the rail link to JFK become a reality.

Well, that’s our strategy, for Lower Manhattan, and for all five boroughs.  Now, it’s one thing to lay out a strategy; you’ve all been there for the ribbon-cuttings and the photo-ops.  It’s another to measure results. 

I’m happy to say that our strategy measures up.  Because any way you look at it, New York’s economy is growing.

The facts speak for themselves. 

Our tourism industry is thriving.  Nearly 40 million people visited New York during 2004—a new record.  With help from the thousands who flocked to New York for “The Gates,” we’re on course to break that record this year. 
Hotel occupancy rates are climbing, and room rates are starting to rise.  Traffic at our airports was up more than 12% last year, and set a new record of serving nearly 94 million customers.  And after a long post-9/11 decline, the number of overseas visitors rebounded last year.

There’s also a construction boom in all five boroughs.  New construction permits are up 20% since 2000.  We’ve set new records for issues permits during each of the last two years.

The citywide commercial vacancy rate has fallen steadily during the last six quarters.

Last week, the respected monthly National Association of Purchasing Management New York business index survey reported that in February, business in the metropolitan area expanded for the 18th consecutive month.  And the managers surveyed said that they sense a pickup in local hiring.

Without a doubt, New York is producing new jobs.  Last year, we created 37,000 new private sector jobs in New York, and forecasters predict we’ll see 50,000 additional new jobs in 2005.  In January alone, New York City gained nearly 14,000 jobs.

Yesterday, our unemployment level dropped to 5.9%, the lowest it has been in three and a half years, since before 9/11.

Now we’ve got to make sure that all New Yorkers enjoy our renewed prosperity.  Every community sacrificed to put New York back on the road to recovery; every community should share in the rewards.

To do that, we’ve completely overhauled the City’s job training programs. 

Now, they’re tied to the new jobs being produced in our city—jobs at the Mandarin Hotel, at the Hunts Point seafood market, and at the Steiner film studios in Brooklyn.

In all, our Administration has placed people in jobs in more than a thousand businesses across the city—a tremendous achievement.

But we’re not stopping there. 

We’ve helped level the playing field for minority- and women-owned businesses that want to become City vendors and contractors.

On Monday, I fulfilled a pledge I made in January’s State of the City, and appointed the Mayor’s Commission on Construction Opportunity. 

It includes Steve Spinola, as well as developers, contractors, union representatives, senior members of my Administration, and Congressman Rangel.  Its goal is ensuring that publicly and privately funded development projects in New York City get built safely and fairly, with opportunities for all.   

Opportunity for all:  That’s what New York is about. 

In fact it’s what we’ve always been about – from the days when this was a Dutch trading post on the edge of nowhere, right up to today.

This has always been the place where anyone, from any background, can pursue his or her own dreams – and realize them.   

I should know.   My father worked seven days a week his entire adult life, and I worked my way through college.  I’ve been hired, and I’ve been fired, too.  But with a lot of hard work, and a great deal of luck, I’ve achieved more than I ever imagined. 

Now, with all my heart, I want to help make those same kinds of dreams possible for every New Yorker.

That’s the vision that guides our Administration.  Over the last three years, we have made enormous strides toward making it a reality.  We’re on the right course.  And by continuing to move forward together, we can ensure that New York’s best days are still ahead. Thank you very much.


Edward Skyler / Jennifer Falk   (212) 788-2958

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