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Mayor Michael Bloomberg: October 2011 Archives

October 2011 Archives

The Revival of Brooklyn’s Waterfront

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New York City was once one of the great manufacturing capitals of the world, until many of those businesses migrated to other parts of the globe where they were able to find cheaper land and cheaper labor. But we’ve always believed that New York must be a place where people can find good jobs in making and moving products. And now, thanks to the investments we’re making to diversify our economic base and put more New Yorkers to work, that’s happening on a substantial scale.

Specifically, we’ve set in motion an ambitious plan to revive Brooklyn’s working waterfront and catalyze the creation of some 11,000 new industrial jobs there over the next two decades. You can already see some of the fruits of those labors in the new businesses that are moving into the area. Phoenix Beverages, for instance, is opening a new shipping facility that will not only take some 20,000 trucks a year off the road, but also create and preserve 600 jobs. Sims Municipal Recycling is opening a recycling facility at the 30th Street Pier, which will also eliminate truck trips and create 100 jobs. And the Axis Group is building a new cargo terminal at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which will create 600 more jobs. 

Last week, we moved forward on another significant investment in our industrial sector: the redevelopment of a mammoth warehouse in Sunset Park endearingly known as Federal Building Number Two. The warehouse, which is as big as Macy’s department store at Herald Square, was built in 1916 for the U.S. Navy, but for the past decade it has sat completely empty. In May, we brokered the sale of the building to a development company that is now going to transform the facility into a new hub for small industrial businesses. We expect this project will create 400 construction jobs and lead to at least 1,300 industrial jobs — jobs that are especially important to immigrants and those who are climbing the first rungs of the economic ladder.

Creating more jobs is our administration’s number-one job, and we’re waging this effort on many fronts — even in areas that you wouldn’t normally expect. Take traffic congestion, for example. Traffic jams aren’t just a headache for those who are stuck in them; they can also be job killers — by robbing businesses of valuable time that instead could be spent selling products and serving customers. 

What’s especially aggravating is the traffic caused by unnecessary road construction. How many times have you seen a street get torn up for maintenance or repair work, repaved, and then ripped up all over again for another project? Well, we’re working to make that kind of aggravation a thing of the past thanks to a new online system we’ve unveiled that brings together city agencies, utility companies, and construction firms to coordinate their projects and reduce unnecessary road work. There will be higher fines, too, for those who flout the rules and dig up streets without a permit. It’s a simple fix to an age-old problem and it’s going to help keep traffic moving, which is vital to keeping our economy moving, too. 
Creating a greenway encircling Manhattan’s 32-mile waterfront has been a dream that’s bedeviled New York City for more than two decades. But we believe in dreaming big, and in finding innovative solutions where others just see obstacles. Under our administration, we’ve been able to stitch together — piece-by-piece, block-by-block — a succession of parks and promenades from Inwood to the Battery. And last week, we reached an agreement that allows us to bridge the biggest gap in the greenway, and overcome the biggest obstacle to completing a ribbon of green around Manhattan.

The agreement centers on a potential deal with the United Nations that would create substantial proceeds for the city to build a mile-long esplanade along the East River between 38th and 60th streets. The residents of that neighborhood have some of the lowest access to parks and public space in the entire city. But now, they’re going to get a spectacular waterfront park right on their doorstep — and one that significantly advances our efforts to reclaim our precious waterfront for the benefit of all.

Besides improving our health and quality of life, reviving New York City’s 578 miles of waterfront goes to the heart of our strategy of creating jobs and growing our economy. That’s because in today’s world, the most dynamic businesses gravitate to wherever they can find the most talented people — and the most talented people are more mobile than ever. That ramps up the pressure on us to do everything we can to make our city an even better place to live and work — and enhancing our neighborhoods and public spaces is a big part of that.

We’re seeing a lot of evidence that this strategy for creating jobs is paying off. Last week for instance, I joined Twitter, one of the world’s most innovative companies, in opening their East Coast headquarters in our city. By establishing its presence in New York, Twitter joins a tech community that’s growing by leaps and bounds. And because innovation is a great engine for job growth, we continue to increase our support for the tech industry by investing in start-ups and providing discounted office space to help get their ideas off the ground. New tech jobs, in turn, also support and help create jobs in other industries — from retail to restaurants to small businesses of every kind. 

Last week, another major company signaled that New York City is the place to be. Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it’s making our city the year-round home port for its newest passenger ship — the Norwegian Breakaway — which will be the largest ship ever to be based in our city. That will mean more tourists spending money in our city, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs up and down the economic ladder, and moving us closer to our goal of attracting 50 million visitors a year by 2012.

Of course, tourism wouldn’t be booming — and our cruise ship industry wouldn’t be so healthy — if New York wasn’t the world’s most exciting port of call. Our restaurants, our hotels, our historic sites and tourist attractions, the diversity of our neighborhoods, are unparalleled. And with the completion of the Manhattan Greenway now visible on the horizon, our city’s future looks brighter than ever. 
Small businesses have always provided the heartbeat of our city’s economy. They account for 50% of the jobs in our private sector workforce. They push our economy forward with new ideas, services, and products, and they are the glue that holds our neighborhoods together. Creating more jobs for New Yorkers during this downturn requires us to keep investing in our small businesses — and one of the best ways we can do that is through Business Improvement Districts.

BIDs rose to fame a couple of decades ago because of their success in transforming Times Square and Union Square from areas racked by abandonment and crime into the dynamic neighborhoods they are today. BIDs are essentially public-private partnerships in which property and business owners channel funds towards various activities to improve and promote their retail corridors — including street cleaning, street improvements, additional security, holiday lighting, and marketing. Our administration has actively supported BIDs because they are an important tool for improving our quality of life and creating jobs. The more attractive our commercial districts are, the more shoppers they’ll attract, and the more our small businesses will thrive. And that’s why we’ve made it considerably easier for BIDs to form, and for BIDs to grow. 

Last week, I signed legislation that creates two exciting new Business Improvement Districts — one in Chinatown, and one along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. That brings the total number of BIDs formed under our administration to 22 — more than any other previous administration — and 19 of them are outside of Manhattan, including the very first one on Staten Island.

In total, there are now 66 BIDs in all five boroughs — the most of any city in America. Collectively, these BIDs contributed over $100 million in services to more than 64,000 businesses during the past year. They employ more than 1,200 sanitation workers, public safety agents, and other staff. Our BIDs are also about bringing merchants together and harnessing their resources to take already-bustling commercial districts to the next level. And you can see that happening on Fordham Road in the Bronx, where merchants have joined together to clean the blocks of graffiti, or on Forest Avenue in Staten Island, where businesses have hosted special events to enliven the streets and attract more shoppers. 

Building great, attractive neighborhoods is one of the pillars of our strategy for creating jobs and growing our economy. And building great neighborhoods happens by building great partnerships. City government can’t do everything we’d like to do — that’s why public-private partnerships are so important. We all want our small businesses to thrive and grow and hire more people — and through Business Improvement Districts, we’re all working together to make that come true.
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