Who We Are
In Memoriam Elizabeth H. Berger (1960-2013)
Elizabeth H. Berger joined the Alliance for Downtown New York as President in November 2007. The organization that manages the Business Improvement District (BID) for Lower Manhattan, the Downtown Alliance provides Lower Manhattan with supplemental sanitation, security and transportation; economic and market research; homeless outreach; retail and restaurant promotion; tourism services, and advocacy to keep the district competitive in the international market. The organization also serves as the district’s research and information clearinghouse, providing tailored, in-house market research, printed and electronic newsletters, and printed and electronic maps.
Under Ms. Berger’s leadership, the Downtown Alliance created a $1.5 million grant program for Lower Manhattan’s small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy, opened mobile tourism information kiosks across the district, expanded and enhanced its signature bus service, the Downtown Connection, and has convened a diverse stakeholder committee to advance Lower Manhattan as a location of choice for technology and innovation firms.
Ms. Berger also successfully advocated for full funding and timely completion of the Fulton Center, the reconstruction of Fiterman Hall, and the extension of post-9/11 commercial leasing incentives. The organization has modernized sanitation services with the deployment of BigBelly Solar Trash compactors at the district’s major pedestrian intersections, and has launched community engagement programs like Green Around Downtown and Re:Construction, the award-winning construction mitigation initiative that used construction barriers as temporary canvases for public art. In 2010, the Downtown Alliance established the Hive at 55, Lower Manhattan’s first co-working facility for freelancers and entrepreneurs and launched a free mobile application for iPhone and Android platforms.
During Ms. Berger’s tenure, she has driven several comprehensive research reports and planning studies designed to showcase and advance Lower Manhattan:
• The widely-cited Back to Business: The State of Lower Manhattan Four Months After Hurricane Sandy report, published in February 2013, four months following the storm, provides a detailed account of the impact of Hurricane Sandy in Lower Manhattan and the district’s swift and remarkable progress toward recovery in all major markets.
• Using 2000 Census and 2010 American Community Survey Data, The Brain Gain: How the Region’s Shifting Demographics Favor the Lower Manhattan Business District revealed that there has been substantial population growth surrounding the Lower Manhattan central business district, especially among young, educated people and workers in the professional and creative fields that drive office leasing in New York City.
• A major media resource for national and international media outlets, the Downtown Alliance released the 10 Years Later: State of Lower Manhattan report, which provided the most comprehensive review of Lower Manhattan’s remarkable economic and demographic changes and major leasing, development, and market trends since the devastating September 11th attacks more than a decade before.
• The award-winning Five Principles for Greenwich South, released in September 2009, provides a detailed vision for connecting the 23 blocks south of the World Trade Center site to the rest of Manhattan, embracing a new “Lower West Side” of which a through Greenwich Street would be the spine. The study also championed an intense mix of uses, density combined with a pedestrian-friendly public realm and easy east-west connections between Battery Park City and the Financial District.
• Announced in June 2010, Water Street: A New Approach created a template for strengthening the competitiveness of Lower Manhattan’s premier commercial corridor through rescaling the street to create an iconic boulevard, creating great public spaces that connect people to the waterfront, attracting and incentivizing retail investment, and extending the hours of activity. Many of the elements from Water Street are being tested by the Bloomberg Administration.
Ms. Berger has more than three decades of experience in government, community affairs and strategic planning. She established government relations practices at the law firms Lord Day & Lord, Barrett Smith and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and is credited with creating the Department of Government and External Affairs at Lincoln Center. A member of Mayor Edward I. Koch’s administration from 1982 to 1989, she served for five years as an Assistant Mayoral Representative to the New York City Council.
A graduate of Yale College, Ms. Berger has been involved with civic organizations in New York City for more than 20 years. She is President of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association and a board director of The Municipal Art Society, Second Stage Theatre, the American Museum of Natural History Planetarium Authority and the New York Building Congress, and a mayoral appointee to the board of the Trust for Governors Island. She has been a Contributing Editor to Aperture Magazine, served on the boards of the Battery Conservancy, the Film Forum and the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, and is the co-author of Everything That Lives, Eats, an art photography book published by Aperture in 1996.
Ms. Berger, a 30-year resident of Lower Manhattan, is married to the writer Frederick Kaufman, Professor of English at the City University of New York. They live in Lower Manhattan with their two children.