Tag Archives: industrial business zones

IBZ funding cuts could hit home for businesses

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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It’s been nearly six years since Allen Frechter moved his company, Plexi-Craft, to Long Island City.

Plexi-Craft, which was founded more than a half-century ago in Manhattan, makes acrylic furniture and displays.

Frechter took control in 2008 after his father passed away and he wanted to expand, but realized Manhattan was too expensive.

Frechter, who lives in Boston, thought about moving to Massachusetts. He also considered New Jersey and New Rochelle. But because of concern for his employees, and help from a local Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) manager in receiving incentives, he was drawn to LIC.

“We have guys [employees] that have been here for 35 years, and our average is about 10-12 years,” Frechter said. “If we had moved out of the city, these guys would have been out of jobs.”

Plexi-Craft currently employees 25 people, including 20 industrial workers, who cut, smooth and sort acrylic pieces. All of the employees live within the five boroughs.

Community leaders want companies such as Plexi-Craft, which is located in the LIC IBZ, to stay and grow in the city.
But some business owners and industry advocates say that their way of life is being threatened, since Mayor Bill de Blasio removed $1.1 million in funding for the IBZs from his preliminary budgets released last month.

The program was originally created to save and foster manufacturing and industrial jobs in the city, but funding has been reduced year after year.

The $1.1 million from last year’s budget was approved by the City Council in its revision, after then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut it from his budget. The City Council and de Blasio still have to make revisions to this year’s budget, so business owners hope the money will not only be replaced, but increased.

When Bloomberg created the IBZs in 2006, he allocated nearly $4 million to the program.

The money is used to give tax credits, up to $1,000 per employee if conditions are met, and pay for consulting services for IBZ managers, which businesses consider invaluable.

Many business owners are too preoccupied with running their establishments to figure out what they qualify for, and find it confusing to understand the alphabet soup of programs. That’s just one way IBZ managers try to help.

Spaeth Designs, a company that makes animated displays for stores during the holidays, including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, is one such company. Spaeth Designs was located in Manhattan for about 40 years, until owners of the building they were in on 54th Street doubled the rent last year.

After talking with an IBZ manager in Queens, they decided to buy a building in Woodside, where the newly formed IBZ was affirmed.

The owners are depending on the IBZ manager to help figure out what incentive programs they qualify for. Since January, the company has been in the process of moving in to its new location.

“We were focused on getting the building and fixing it,” said Sandy Spaeth, president of Spaeth Designs. “What we need right now is to move in. As far as benefits go we don’t know yet.”

Spaeth employs about 30 worker at the height of its production season from July through November, and owners said their employees live in the five boroughs.

The other argument for the IBZs is that it will protect industrial businesses, since they are zoned for manufacturing companies.

David Spaeth, CEO and chairperson of Spaeth Designs, said the rent increase occurred because their former neighborhood was seeing an influx of luxurious businesses in other sectors. But in an IBZ, he argues, they won’t be pressured out.

“This is our home,” Spaeth said, “and for as long as we see it.”



Contentious Maspeth Knockdown Center faces opposition in liquor license application

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/ Ariana Page Russell

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In round one in the fight for The Knockdown Center to obtain a liquor license, it seems the local community board won’t be in their corner.

The center recently applied for a cabaret liquor license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA), according to Community Board 5, despite heavy opposition from residents and elected officials. The cabaret class license will allow the center to serve liquor at events, which have “musical entertainment,” for 600 or more people.

The community board wrote a letter to SLA opposing the license, outlining fears of negative impacts the center could have on the neighborhood.

“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Bob Holden, a member of the board and president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This is a blue print for disaster right here.”

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition, and most recently a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes and large exhibits in the future.

In the letter, the board cited various reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor licenses, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to the immediate residences.

“All too typical with young people partying at raves and other events, which this could certainly house there is extensive alcohol abuse, but also abuse of prescription drugs and drugs like molly and ecstasy,” the letter stated. “There is a residential community very nearby, just on the opposite side of Flushing Avenue from the site in question. Problems with intoxication, fights, calls for ambulances and noise from loud music will hurt the residential community.”

Members are also worried that the center is taking away the opportunity for industrial jobs, as the site is zoned for manufacturing.

Recently it was revealed that Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in his preliminary budget for the Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) program, which were created to save and foster manufacturing jobs in the city. There are two IBZs in the board, one in Masepth, and the newly approved zone in Ridgewood.

“We should start talking about how we could protect our manufacturing zones,” said John Maier, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee. “How we can go and address our elected (officials) and the city government to help ensure that these facilities don’t [effect] on our IBZs (Industrial Business Zones)?”

The center has been working on obtaining its Place of Assembly and Certificate of Occupancy, and has maintained it will not harm the community.

“We are excited that the community is getting involved and expressing their concerns,” said Tyler Myers, manager of the Knockdown Center. “We know that our direct neighbors are excited about it. The concerns of the larger community weren’t true last summer, and won’t be true [in the future].”



Industrial Business Zones in danger of losing funding

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 


Ted Renz is hoping what he fought so hard for won’t soon end.

Just last November, Renz, director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, was at the forefront of the fight to get the neighborhood included in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program.

But only three months later, the IBZ may be in jeopardy, as Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in funding in his preliminary budget for the program, an initiative left over from the previous administration to save manufacturing jobs.

“We are disappointed that it wasn’t in the mayor’s budget,” Renz said. “We thought that he was a big supporter of manufacturing jobs. We hope that it will be reinstated (in his final budget).”

IBZs were created to stabilize industrial areas and spur growth in the manufacturing sector by offering tax credits of up to $1,000 per employee for businesses that relocated to them, and additional services to help companies grow.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated nearly $4 million to 16 IBZs in 2006.

However, since its inception, funding decreased to about $1.1 million in 2013. Bloomberg himself hasn’t allocated money to the initiative since 2010, but the City Council has restored it every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The move could mean de Blasio, who supported manufacturing jobs during his campaign, will engage a different strategy to assist the sector, although his administration has not come up with any specifics.

“The de Blasio administration is committed to making smart, impactful investments that will help industrial business thrive in New York City, and is working with our agency partners to take a fresh look at the suite of programs that support this critical part of the city economy,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Spending differences in one program do not speak to the overall commitment to industrial firms and their jobs.”

Despite the decline in funding over the years, the program has grown to 21 IBZs, including Ridgewood and Woodside last year.

Community Board (CB) 5 especially pushed for the Ridgewood IBZ against opponents, which are owners who wanted to use their properties for residential use instead of industrial.

“It enables us to promote businesses more in that area and advocate for businesses, and provide programs for manufacturing,” said Renz, who is a member of CB 5.

In March, the city council will review the preliminary budget, and some are touting the IBZ’s signficance. “I am committed to restore it,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “I know it is important not just to Maspeth and Ridgewood, but the rest of the city. It is something that the council treasures.”