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ITC underscores role of 'industry buildings' in City's economy.

Business media often note the growing role of convention centers as a tool of economic development. But the huge contributions made by multi-tenant buildings dedicated to specific industries - such as Manhattan's International Toy Center (ITC) - generally garner far less attention

The ITC complex, which occupies adjoining structures at 200 Fifth Avenue and 1107 Broadway, is recognized globally as a nucleus of the children's entertainment industry in America. It is the only 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year, turn-key mart dedicated to the Children's Entertainment and Seasonal Products industries in the world. And the marketing facilities it provides for manufacturers and the visitors it attracts inject tens of millions of dollars into the local economy each year.

This week, for the 75th consecutive year, nearly 30,000 toy wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers' representatives from around the world are visiting the ITC in conjunction with the American International Toy Fair, sponsored by Toy Manufacturers of America. Among the exhibitors there - from Monday to Monday, February 9th through the 16th - are nearly 400 tenants who occupy ITC's one million square feet of showroom, office and exhibition space.

But ITC's private, permanent showrooms and offices are not quiet for the rest of the year. Unlike a convention center, they are visited by buyers throughout the year for special presentations, product launches and previews, and for the industry shows in rune, July, October and February of each year. In addition, the ITC has extensive conference and function rooms and an elegant club for use by tenants to host buyers, or buyers wishing to have presentations from tenants, and a lounge for buyers with special telephone, fax, and e-mail facilities and food service

Major Initiative is Launched

ITC recently announced a $20 million facilities upgrading as part of its massive "ITC 2000" initiative, which includes new selling opportunities, new space leasing initiatives, and the debut of the ITC interactive website on the Internet.

"ITC 2000 is designed to give toy and trim buyers, manufacturers and manufacturers' representatives an innovative forum to communicate in a modern professional environment and to help forge the relationships that grow the industry," said Thomas S. Arbuckle, managing director of the ITC. "The programs offered through ITC 2000 will enhance the physical facility itself upgrading our year-round world market center for the synergy of creative people who compose the toy and trim communities."

Arbuckle explains that the goals of ITC 2000 are not only to improve the amenities of the physical plant, but to cater to the specific markets of the industries by establishing more and better-targeted selling and buying opportunities year-round. Events like the upcoming First Annual New York Trim A Tree Show, which runs from February 17th to 22nd at the ITC, and October's Pre-Line Show, "are just a sample of how the ITC will help target the specialty and mass toy and trim markets, for the convenience and effectiveness of all parties."

Many of the new services encompassed by ITC 2000 will be debuted during Toy Fair at ITC. For example:

* Companies that do not have private showrooms at the ITC can take advantage of the "gallery program," which provides attended, full-time presence. Companies can lease booths of up to 200 square feet for display of company catalogs and brochures and use ITC conference rooms and offices, as well.

* The "incubator program" is designed to introduce young companies, inventors, new corporate divisions and off-shore companies new to the U.S. market to the benefits of an ITC showroom at a discounted rate during Toy Fair.

* "Video walls" have been installed in the ITC lobby at 200 Fifth Avenue to provide a new venue for advertising.

* "Convention Kids," a professional child-care service, and spouse packages will help relieve the pressure trade events can have on a working family.

* The "Jackpot-In-A-Box" sweepstakes contest will award buyers with cash and prizes valued at $20,000. In addition, those who register will receive information on industry news and retailing seminars.

"Virtual ITC" Debuts

In the coming year, the ITC will introduce "one of the most exciting initiatives it has ever undertaken, as part of ITC 2000," Arbuckle said. On January 26th, an interactive website (a virtual International Toy Center online) at www.thetoycenter.com, made its debut. The website not only features news and information on ITC happenings, but also includes a directory of ITC tenants, and will soon provide links to ITC exhibitors' homepages and direct e-mail access to the ITC management office.

Meanwhile, throughout this year and next, the building improvements program will proceed, including the refurbishment of hallways, elevator cabs, bathrooms and other public areas, and mechanical and communication systems.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Manhattan's International Toy Center
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 11, 1998
Words:766
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