'Matter of Survival': New York Law School Offers Tribeca Recovery Help

New York Law School's first meeting on Tribeca's recovery from the pandemic.

Apr. 09, 2021

When it comes to the pandemic’s crushing economic impact, Tribeca-based New York Law School is thinking local.

The school is launching the Tribeca Pandemic Recovery Task Force, an initiative intended to help breathe life into the neighborhood as it tries to rebound from the loss of workers, residents and businesses. Last month, the school convened a virtual panel discussion on how to begin that effort. More than130 people tuned in to the forum.

“Every time I come out of the Chambers Street subway stop I’m pained to see how many businesses have closed shop and how empty the neighborhood now feels,” said Anthony Crowell, the New York Law School dean. “My goal for this program,” he added, “is to begin to identify concrete issue areas that our task force will pursue and determine what research and advocacy steps are needed next.”

Crowell invites people interested in participating to contact TribecaTaskForce@nyls.edu. Go here to watch the full discussion.

Below are comments from the panelists, edited for brevity and clarity.

Lance Lappin, Tribeca resident and owner of Lance Lappin Salon

City office workers are coming back in May with 80,000 people. But many of the residents are gone and I feel like I’ve lost half my business. So what do you do when it starts coming back? Are the rents going to go back up? As a small business I don’t have the resources to brainstorm with people who would know how to deal with that in a real time fashion. So I’m grateful that this task force might be it.  

I like the idea of joining together as a salon with restaurants and many hotels to have people come down for a day in Tribeca, get your hair done, get a facial, get lunch or dinner and somehow we coordinate with each other.

ANDREW RIGIE, Executive director, New York City Hospitality Alliance

It would be interesting to know the plans of large companies for bringing their employees back. Is it going to be two days in the office and three days at home? Some hybrid model? Knowing that may allow businesses to start thinking, Ok, if I can at least hold out til September, I know there’s going to be 25,000 employees coming back into the neighborhood. And from there figure out specific ways to market to those people. Try to give people information as much as possible so they can plan as best as possible. 

You have to think about what kind of businesses, outside of food and beverage, does the Tribeca neighborhood want and how do you get those types of businesses into the vacant storefronts for rents that they can afford. And how do you get people who live in the neighborhood and visitors to actually go there and purchase stuff? 

REEGAN BROWN, NYC Department of Small Business Services

From my personal experience organizing merchants is a really effective way to drive change. They can provide a collective voice for the neighborhood. Conduct a proper neighborhood assessment or commercial district needs. It allows community organizations to identify, develop and launch a commercial revitalization project that is informed by those needs and priorities. 

ANDREAS KOUTSOUDAKIS, owner of Tribeca’s Kitchen and partner, KI Legal

Everybody has to stop thinking about my problem. Think about other people’s problems and let somebody else think about yours. And little by little it will get fixed. There should be a place in the community where somebody can ask, “Hey, does somebody know how to do this? We need that human connection. There is no community if we don’t talk.

JAMES FAMULARO, president of retail leasing, Meridian Capital Group 

If there’s any way that we can streamline the community board process and make it a little easier for people to get their liquor license or other permits that would be a huge help. Same goes with the Department of Buildings and Landmarks Commission.

ALICE BLANK, Tribeca resident, vice chair, Community Board 1 and architect, A. Blank Architecture + Design

Our community board has responded quite fairly and I would hope effectively by setting up a small business working group to identify problems and help solve them. I think our board has been quite sensitive to all the issues that surround us concerning small businesses and restaurants and the needs to open. The community would greatly benefit from much more participation of Tribeca residents and business owners and students. So this is a call to arms for people to come out to the board and participate in these meetings where a lot of work gets done. 

DAVID STEINGARD, Tribeca resident, CEO and co-founder of Laughing Man Cafe

I think the value of this is to bring up more questions than answers at this point. But there’s a real nice moment for Tribeca right now to come together and think about how we want to come out of this, what our values are, how we can work together to create a cohesive vision.

DAVID MUTTER, Tribeca resident with BGC Partners, a financial services company

There are huge resources here for us, be it with Goldman Sachs, Citibank, and all of these financial and larger institutions in the neighborhood who actually are stakeholders in Tribeca. I would love to engage the corporate interests and I think that’s where there’s an opportunity. 

ANN BENEDETTO, owner of the clothing store A Uno and president of the Tribeca Alliance

What I would like to have is someone who knows how to approach SBA or any other institution who can help us, who can support us. I think we’re worth saving and all of you who have incredible skill sets can sit down and figure out how to help the people who are already here and who want to stay here, and help them to survive this pandemic. It really is a matter of survival. 

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