Wednesday, August 13, 2014

From Inside City Hall: Brooklyn Chamber President says 2016 convention would be "a cakewalk"

From NY1's Inside City Hall last night, Brooklyn Leaders Make Case for Barclays DNC:
City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Tucker Reed, President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Carlo Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce joined Inside City Hall to help make the pitch for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to hold the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn.
Most notably, Scissura optimistically suggested the logistics would be a "cakewalk."

Leading off, host Errol Louis asked how it came about.

"The city came to us and said, What do you think. We loved it from Day One," reported Scissura. "We made sure the delegates got a little bag of Brooklyn goodies... Errol, we are... the hottest place in America.

Louis suggested a lot of business would benefit but others would not, suggesting the Tech Triangle would be bypassed.

Reed revved up, suggesting the convention would benefit many of the companies in the Downtown Brooklyn area, especially the hotels, and  the 500 tech and innovation firms would be "perfect venues for holding meet-ups" and other events.

Louis asked Cumbo about neighbors' concerns such as "what about my parking space, what about my ability to get around, what's this I hear about shutting down the Manhattan Bridge?"

"[DOT] Commissioner [Polly] Trottenberg was very instrumental in the planning," reported Cumbo, who noted similar concerns were raised about the arena, which relies on public transit.

(A convention likely would be similar not to Nets games, where attendees have gotten used to taking public transit, but rather to one-off events like a Barbra Streisand concert, which drew lots of limits or, for closest neighbors, like the MTV Video Music Awards, which closed off streets was confounding to some.)

"We have the world's largest transit system in the country," she said not so clearly. (It's the largest in the country, not in the world.)

She noted that details were being worked out. "Our focus was making the delegates feel the Brooklyn vibe, or the Brooklyn swag, or the Brooklyn je ne sais quoi, the it factor, the cool factor."

Louis asked about new hotel rooms.

"Brooklyn will have 2500-2600 hotel rooms," said Scissura. "I have to stress, this is Brooklyn's convention, we want delegates to go to Coney Island, Sunset Park, they'll see Borough Park, they'll see Sheepshead Bay... Brooklyn is the home to everybody in the world. If you're in Brooklyn, you're not going to be in Downtwon Brooklyn and Fort Greene, you're going to be out and about. The traffic--we'll get through it. New York City knows how to put events together... We have the United Nations here, we have everything happen here. This is a cakewalk. People will enjoy the borough, 2.5 million hosts all across the borough will welcome these delegates."

Louis asked about a new hotel at Tillary and Flatbush.

The hotel industry "has invested over $300 million in Downtown Brooklyn in past few years," Reed responded, noting the ten-year anniversary of rezoning of Brooklyn. "The city invested about $400 million in public infrastructure, and private sector responded with $4 billion in investments... this isn't something that the city just came up with."

He left out the part about how the rezoning raised values enormously for landowners.

"My former boss, Marty Markowitz, we went through that whole Barclays arena struggle, and by the way, it is the best arena in America," Scissura added."He always said we will host a Democratic national convention."

Louis said some Brooklynites would leave the city, others might rent out homes via AirBnB. "What's your sense of how this is going to work out?"

"I think this is going to be an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurship," responded Cumbo. "We want to make sure we allow the opportunity for residents to have gainful employment... Similar to how hiring happened at the Barclays arena... we want to make sure that we hire locally... this is a win for Brooklyn. .. this is something that's going to be epic, something that people are going to remember for generations."

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