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Downtown Alliance takes storefronts to the next level.

The Downtown Alliance's Storefront Improvement Program, an initiative that encourages Downtown property owners and merchants to improve their storefronts, has expanded its program to include second-floor and subway-level retail establishments. In total, the program has recruited nearly 170 stores in Lower Manhattan.

The Downtown Alliance established the Storefront Improvement Program in the fall of 1998 to help business people in Lower Manhattan below Chambers Street attract more customers by designing visually appealing storefronts. The enhancement projects can be as basic as upgrading awnings and signs or as complex as the replacement of a storefront's frame, glass and door.

"It is amazing what an attractive, new facade can do for your business," said Jacques Bergier, manager of the Leonidas store (depicted to the right). "Our storefront face-lift has made us more visible, and has helped us to attract and earn the respect of our Downtown customers."

Through the Storefront Improvement Program, The Downtown Alliance subsidizes 50 percent of architectural design services and 50 percent of construction costs, up to $3,000 per storefront. Once a property owner or merchant agrees to improve their storefront, the Downtown Alliance remains closely involved in the project to insure that the improvement is completed in a timely fashion and with minimal problems.

A total of 168 Downtown stores are participating in the program; 72 enhancement projects have been completed to date and the remainder is in the planning and development phases. The Downtown Alliance has allocated more than $600,000 for storefront revitalizations and funding for additional improvements is in place.

One Lower Manhattan street corner, in particular, has seen the possibilities of the program. The Downtown Alliance worked with all of the businesses above ground at the corner of Fulton Street at Broadway as well as six establishments below ground within the access corridor to the subway system. All of the stores signed on, and the combined improvements have revitalized the street corner and the subway station.

The Downtown Alliance launched the Storefront Improvement Program as part of its ongoing effort to foster the vitality of Downtown New York. According to a Downtown Alliance report released earlier this year, Lower Manhattan has been dramatically transformed in the past five years through residential conversions, expanded tourism and a healthy office market.

The neighborhood, which counted 15,000 residents in 1995, boasted 25,000 full-time residents by year-end 2000, and that population is expected to swell to 30,000 by 2005. The report also determined that although Lower Manhattan thrives due to its burgeoning residential population, the area still requires a wider array of local retail, restaurants and services.

Downtown stores that have taken full advantage of the Storefront Improvement Program to replace and enhance their lighting, signage, windows and gates include: Aerosoles, 18 John St.; Leonidas Belgian Chocolates, 3 Hanover Square; Taste of Tokyo, 60 Beaver St., and Herbal World, 75 Nassau St.

The Downtown Alliance manages the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District (BID). The Alliance serves an area roughly from City Hall to the Battery, from the East River to West Street, for which it provides supplemental sanitation and security, economic development, streetscape and transportation improvements, marketing and enhanced tourist services.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 25, 2001
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