BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 10

Readers' Forum

Jessica Lappin says the growth and
development of downtown Manhattan
is no accident. By Ian Zelaya

A

s the president of
New York's Downtown
Alliance, Jessica Lappin
serves as a voice
of lower Manhattan's business community and manages
the city's largest Business
Improvement District. Since
beginning her tenure in 2014,
Lappin has led neighborhood
initiatives that have included
expanding free public Wi-Fi,
securing close to $15 million in
resiliency funding, and creating
the organization's new downtown headquarters, which offers
free event and meeting space to
local nonprofits. Lappin shares her
thoughts on how new venues are
impacting the neighborhood, why
the hospitality industry is booming, and why event planners are
hosting more events downtown.
What is the main goal of the
Downtown Alliance?
The Downtown Alliance is a
Business Improvement District.
We are the largest one in New
York and, I think, nationally. Our
big-picture mission is to try and
make this a dynamic place for
people to live, to work, and to
visit. We do that by providing
very nitty-gritty direct services.
We empty garbage cans, we have
public safety officers out there.
But we also both market the
neighborhood and find ways to
boost the economic development
and job growth.
Why do you think downtown
Manhattan is such a big hub for
hosting events?
Well I think a main reason is the
location. This is literally where the
city began and where everything
comes together. Whether you're
coming from Brooklyn, New Jersey,
Queens, or Long Island, every
single subway line converges
here, plus the PATH train and the
ferries. It's a really convenient
place for people to come together.
It's also the fourth-largest central

10

business district in the country.
It's a natural place to have events
because of the sheer number of
people who work here. In terms of
private sector alone, last year we
hit 235,000 employees, which was
our highest number since 9/11.
That's just continuing to grow.
You have a pretty large built-in
base for employees who are here,
and, for those who are coming,
you couldn't find an easier place
to get to. The other piece of it is
there has been so much focus
on our rebirth that people really
want to come and see what's
happening here, because it's an
exciting moment in the neighborhood's history and the city as well.
Would you say this is why the
hospitality industry is booming
in lower Manhattan as well?
Our tourism numbers are going
through the roof. We had 14.2
million visitors in 2015, which is
almost a 50 percent increase from
what we had two years before.
We now have dozens of hotels
that have opened. Whether you
want to stay at a three-star or
five-star, people have options that
didn't exist before. The Beekman
or the Four Seasons are fantastic
spaces. The other piece of it is
places to eat and hang out. The
Beekman is another example,
with new restaurants from Tom
Colicchio and Keith McNally. These
are two very successful, famous
[culinary figures] who decided for
the first time to put down flags
here, along with Wolfgang Puck
opening a restaurant at the Four
Seasons. Whether people live in
the city or not, they want to come
check out a lot of these exciting
new options.
The alliance's lower Manhattan
headquarters (L.M.H.Q.) recently
started offering free event space
to New York nonprofits. Can you
tell me more about this initiative
and its importance?
There has been a change in who

2017 bizbash best downtown new york

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"There has been
so much focus on
our rebirth that
people really
want to come
and see what's
happening here."
works in lower Manhattan. It's no
longer dominated by firms that
are in financial services. While
I could argue we are still the
financial capital of the world, we
now have tech, advertising, media
companies, and nonprofits that
are choosing to come here in ways
they hadn't before. We opened a
space called L.M.H.Q., which really
caters to all of the above. It is a
place where whether you're an
entrepreneur or you're working at
a Fortune 500 company, you can
come host events, rent a conference room, and hear some interesting programming. Beyond that,
we got a grant from Con Edison
called the Bright Ideas grant,
which enabled us to offer free
space to nonprofits. They have to
apply, and we accept people on
a rolling basis. Last year was the
first time we did it. There were a
dozen nonprofits that benefited.
One World Observatory is a
popular newer venue downtown,
and the Ronald O. Perelman
Performing Arts Center at the
World Trade Center is one of the
neighborhood's biggest upcoming openings. How will new and
future venues such as these
impact downtown?
The Ronald O. Perelman
Performing Arts Center is in a
league of its own, in the sense
that it's going to be a worldclass performing arts space. We
haven't seen something like this
in New York City in a very long
time. Barbra Streisand is the chair
of the board, and they're going to
attract a lot of talent. It's really a
game-changer for us downtown.
The building itself will be complicated because it is on the World

Trade Center site, but there's a
beautiful design in place and
a substantial amount of funding in place. I'm personally very
excited for that. Separate from
that, whether it's Cipriani or One
World Trade or the event space
at 1 Wall Street, there are new
venues opening because we have
so many new companies here that
have a need. Whether they want
to work off-site or need a place to
host conferences or events, these
are companies that have chosen
to make this neighborhood their
home. It gives us more opportunity to host more high-profile
events in the neighborhood, and
that's a great thing.
What initiatives does the
Downtown Alliance have planned
for the future?
What we try to do is advocate
and suggest things that either
private individuals or the city
can do working together to
make the neighborhood better.
We're going to continue our
push on the east side of the
district, along Water Street, to
encourage owners to put retail
in to some of those ground-floor
spaces where we think it would
make sense and be a benefit to
the community. There's a park at
Greenwich South-just south of
the World Trade Center site-that
we're actively pushing the city
to construct. And we'll continue
to do what we do day in and day
out, which is not insignificant just
in terms of running a free bus
service, trying to help the homeless people here, and making sure
that we keep garbage and graffiti
to a minimum. Those are the
things we're going to keep doing.

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York

Contents
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - Cover1
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - Cover2
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - A
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - B
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - Contents
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 4
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 5
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 6
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 7
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 8
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 9
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 10
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 11
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 12
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 13
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 14
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 15
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 16
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 17
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 18
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 19
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 20
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 21
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BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 24
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 25
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 26
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 27
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 28
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 29
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 30
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 31
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - 32
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - Cover3
BizBash Best Guide 2017 - Downtown New York - Cover4
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