Long Island City BID Holds Annual Meeting
The Long Island City Partnership’s LICBID Annual Meeting, held last week in the Queensborough Room of the MetLife Building on Queens Plaza North, heard George Fertitta of NYC & Company as its guest speaker and went through yearly elections and a financial report. There were also civic awards for a local activist and three businesspersons. The meeting was opened by Brause Realty Executive David Brause, who is chairman of the BID. He hailed the hotel-building activity in Long Island City in recent years, happy that thus far there are 18 new ones, a figure that went up and down with successive speakers. City Comptroller John Liu spoke briefly disclosing that he had released just over $100 million to the City Council, to use or save.
Fertitta, president of NYC & Company, known as the city’s official tourism, marketing and partnership operation, repeated the figure, by now well-known, that New York City had 50 million visitors last year, adding that while this was a stated goal of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it was achieved a year early. He said the city has the highest rate of hotel occupancy anywhere. Never resting, the mayor set a new goal for next year—55 million. Of last year’s 50 million, 10.6 million came from abroad. Fertitta was particularly impressed by the segment of that number who came from Brazil. Queens welcomed 8.2 million travelers, domestic and foreign and, according to the speaker, has thus far put up 16 hotels in Long Island City, a good enough number, whatever it may be, to constitute a big part of the total of 41 built in the city in this century. Continuing with his Queens audience, he said his group has granted $277,000 to arts organization in the borough. Queens is mentioned often and positively in commercials it has running this year on Sirius Satellite Radio and in stories it has placed in newspapers throughout the world. “No borough is more important,” he said.
Of Long Island City, he said it should be proud of “the vision” it has put forward. He said he hears about Long Island City when traveling abroad. “Almost every neighborhood in the city has the potential to revitalize and revive,” he said, a declaration that he could extend to Long Island City and much of the rest of Queens. “All of you should be proud of what you’ve done and what lies ahead of you.”
At question time, Alan Suna of Silvercup Studios asked Fertitta if he knew how many passengers the Roosevelt Island Tram carried annually. Fertitta said he couldn’t answer the question at the moment but could find out. Suna called the tram “iconic” and said he would like to see it extended from Roosevelt Island to Queens, which would allow traffic back and forth to the Cornell/Technion science campus when it is built at the south end of the island. Fertitta found that idea “cool” and quickly made reference to the ferries that have come into existence fairly recently, using the East River shoreline in Queens as a docking point to and from the other boroughs. He said that venture is “unbelievably successful”. The bike share project that is near launching in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn will, among other things, be a “tremendous tourist opportunity”.
Being the BID treasurer, Alan Suna went over the finances. He said that in the approved FY 2012-13 budget, total income would actually be slightly smaller than it was in FY 2011-12, at $470,700 against $471,200. Security and sanitation outlays would be up, and all capital improvements too, with a funding increase for maintenance of the Jackson Avenue medians and a doubling of funding for maintenance of the new parkland in Queens Plaza. Suna said the reserve fund is currently $320,000; it was $50,000 when the BID was launched in 2005.
Gary Kesner of the nominating committee announced that five Class A (property owners) board members were nominated this year and another five Class B (commercial tenants) members, as well as the one Class C (resident) member. Five elected officials’ representatives and two community board chairmen round out the membership.
Awards were presented to four persons by District Services Manager Dana Frankel. Patrick O’Brien of Community Board 2 was cited for “positive direction”, though there was no specific reference to his tireless effort to stop the coming to Queens Plaza of the “gentlemen’s club”, Gypsy Rose. Giovanna Cerbone-Teoli, of Manducatis Rustica restaurant on Vernon Boulevard, was given the community partner award; and Takashi Ikezawa and Fumio Tashiro, the two owners of Resobox, the Japanese art gallery and café on 27th Street near Queens Plaza North, won the Queens Plaza business award.
Executive Director Gayle Baron of the Long Island City Partnership, closed the meeting with remarks that included running up the total of LIC hotels to 19. She noted that when the BID began in 2005 the number was only one or two. She said there were 230 “Long Island City Welcomes You” banners now on display and many more will join them. She called May’s Long Island City Arts Festival the best ever and predicted “phenomenal success” for the bike share program, which, she said, should ease getting around Long Island City for many.