It seemed like most of the neighborhood was gathered inside Lina Frey, the bistro on East Houston Street, last night for the LES Business Improvement District’s annual meeting.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the special guest speaker. She told BID members what they wanted to hear: that she was committed to advocating for property tax reform and that small businesses need more help dealing with New York’s maddening city bureaucracy. There was plenty of applause as Quinn criticized the city’s byzantine restaurant inspection system. “We want to find a way to move away from enforcement that isn’t about quality and public health and public safety but is really about generating money,” she said.
On a lighter note, Quinn said she couldn’t resist a “shameless plug” for Doyle & Doyle, the Orchard Street jewelry store. Recently the Speaker’s partner, Kim Catulo, took her mother’s engagement ring into the store to be re-sized (apparently the New York Times “forgot” to mention this key fact).
Following Quinn’s remarks, BID Executive Director Bob Zuckerman walked guests through highlights of the past year, previewed 2012 and took care of other official business. Here are the highlights:
- The business improvement district’s officers will be staying on for another year. They are: Mark Miller (president), David Zarin (vice president), Michael Forrest (1st VP), Eric Harrison/88 Orchard (2nd VP), Andrew Chase/Cafe Katja (3rd VP), Barbara Tindel/47 Orchard St. Corp. (treasurer) and Sion Misrahi (secretary).
- The BID’s new neighborhood guide will feature on its cover “How to Make it in America” stars Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk.
- The organization will kick off the new year by formally debuting its GPS-enabled neighborhood iphone app (it’s available in the itunes store for download now).
- The mayor’s office has approved a “test event,” to be held next spring, on Orchard Street, above Delancey Street. The street has been closed to traffic on Sundays for many decades but foot traffic has been minimal for quite some time. Tentatively called “Daylife,” the event will include outdoor food and apparel vendors and entertainment. if all goes well, the city will sign off on several other Orchard Street fairs throughout the year.
- Early next year, the BID will schedule a series of public meetings to solicit feedback about its proposed expansion (the new boundaries would roughly be Bowery, Clinton Street, East Houston and Canal). Zuckerman said response from property owners has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
- The BID plans to create a separate non-profit organization, a Lower East Side Development Corp., to work on various development projects. Among them: a neighborhood business incubator.
- Pickle Day, the BID’s most successful event, will be moved from the fall to the spring.
Lots of neighborhood businesses and property owners were represented last night. A community spirit award was presented to Joy Florentz of Maraya Cigar. A partnership award was given to Lesley Heller of Lesley Heller Workspace, the Orchard Street gallery.
Also in attendance last night: Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership (and a driving force behind the establishment of the New Chinatown BID., City Councilmember Margaret Chin, State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and Community Board 3’s Susan Stetzer. Matt Levine and Kelly Brady of Brandsway Creative, were there as well. Their firm recently signed on to help the BID create marketing programs and events (they had a little something to do with that Bryan Greenberg/Victor Rasuk cover). One of the most popular guys in the room last night: Daniel Barasch, the co-conspirator of the “Delancey Underground,” that proposed subterranean park everyone’s talking about.