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Elizabeth Lusskin departing LIC Partnership

After eight years, Lusskin will take executive role with Empire State Development

By Journal Staff
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Elizabeth Lusskin is departing from her role as the long-time president of the Long Island City Partnership, and executive director of the Long Island City Business Improvement District. Next month, she will be named executive vice president of small business and technology development with the Empire State Development Corporation.

Since joining the LIC Partnership in October 2013, Lusskin has helped promote the neighborhood’s industrial, commercial, residential, tech, social service and cultural assets through a variety of successful programs, initiatives, and events.

“Getting to lead LICP and the LIC BID during this pivotal period in the history of LIC has been the greatest honor,” Lusskin said. “This is a truly fabulous community, encompassing everything a true ‘city’ would require — from industry to culture to residential — and a diversity of people, sectors, and community leadership that is unparalleled. We have a first-rate, mission driven staff and highly engaged boards of directors. I am so proud of all we have accomplished over the last eight years, both as a neighborhood and as an organization, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for both.”

During her tenure, she helped oversee the expansion of the LIC BID to more than double its size. Created in 2005, the original LIC BID expanded in 2017 to include commercial corridors along Jackson Avenue, Vernon Boulevard and 44th Drive. The LIC BID is managed by the LIC Partnership and also provides beautification initiatives throughout the community.

In addition to her role at LIC Partnership, Lusskin serves as the co-chair of the NYC BID Association and is a member of the Queens Tech Council and NYC Workforce Business Council, among others. She served on economic development transition committees for both Mayor Eric Adams and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr., and was co-chair of the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan Steering Committee and co-chair of the Amazon Community Advisory Committee Project Plan Committee.

In her upcoming role with the Empire State Development Corporation, Lusskin will direct a large portfolio of grant, loan and incentive programs, and will report to its newly appointed president, Hope Knight, who has most recently served as the president and CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

Lusskin’s last day with the LIC Partnership is May 24 and she will assume her role with Empire State Development on June 1. The Partnership’s board will govern the organization until a successor is identified; a start date is expected this summer.

Current and former colleagues praised Lusskin’s dedication to the LIC community and wished her good luck in her next endeavor.

“The Long Island City Partnership has been so fortunate to have Liz Lusskin at its helm during the past decade of unprecedented growth. Liz leaves the LIC community and the organization well positioned for its next great chapter,” said Patricia Dunphy, senior vice president of Rockrose and LIC Partnership board chair.

“The LIC BID has grown and thrived under the leadership of Liz Lusskin. I have truly enjoyed working with Liz to improve this wonderful neighborhood! Our entire community is grateful for her hard work and creativity, all of which will be put to good use in her next chapter with ESD,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty and LIC BID Chair.

“Liz Lusskin’s legacy in Long Island City is one of leadership, innovation and growth. I could not be happier for her as she takes her immense talents to Empire State Development, where she will surely continue to deliver real results for our businesses and our families across the state,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Queens is a stronger borough because of Liz’s time with the Long Island City Partnership, and I look forward to our continued partnership as she transitions into her new role at ESD, led by organization president and fellow Queens luminary Hope Knight.”

“Throughout Liz Lusskin’s time at the helm of Long Island City Partnership, she has been a steadfast and dedicated partner in transforming Long Island City to the bustling hub of arts, culture and business it is known as today,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said. “I am thrilled she will be joining Empire State Development as Executive VP for Small Business and Technology Development, and she will bring to New York State the same vision and ingenuity she has brought to Long Island City and Western Queens.”

“Liz Lusskin’s leadership, vision, and tenacity have helped transform Long Island City into a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood and a great place to live, work, play and own a business,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Thomas Grech said. “Liz has been a valuable resource to me and my team and a trusted partner in all things Long Island City. While we are sad to see her leave the LIC Partnership, we are thrilled she is joining Empire State Development as Executive VP for Small Business and Technology Development. Her tireless advocacy for small businesses, particularly in the technology sector, make her ideal for this position.”

Business Districts to merge in Downtown Jamaica

The bustling business district of downtown Jamaica could soon be overseen by a single business improvement district, or “BID,” as consolidation efforts are underway.

Support has been shown for the merger of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, the 165th Street Mall Special Assessment District and the Jamaica Center Special Assessment District, with many elected officials giving their blessing to the concept at a Committee of Finance meeting last week.

The bill itself, Int. No. 103, would alter how the district is assessed by expanding the boundaries of the existing Sutphin Boulevard BID.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, also the former co-chair of the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, offered her full support of the legislation to create a unified business improvement district. It was during her time as co-chair of the Jamaica Now Leadership Council when the merger was first proposed.

“Our downtown area will have a singular brand and voice, which will facilitate more opportunities for investments and large-scale transformative projects,” Adams said. “It will reduce any overlap in responsibilities among the current BIDS, and will more strategically position Jamaica to meet the ever growing needs and challenges of our small businesses, residents and visitors.”

Adams, a Southeast Queens native, says that a unified effort will mean consistent programming and services, as well as greater input for the concerns of businesses in downtown Jamaica.

“I’m excited about the future of this area that I’ve called home for so long, and the potential for positive change this proposal will bring,” Adams said.

As it currently stands, the Sutphin Boulevard BID encompasses Sutphin Boulevard and properties south of Archer Avenue. The Jamaica Center BID, which is technically a special assessment district, includes businesses along Jamaica Avenue starting at Sutphin Boulevard and ending at 169th Street. The 165th Street Mall Special Assessment District includes businesses extending along 16th Street from Jamaica Avenue to 89th Avenue, with over 160 stores in its current footprint.

Councilmember Nantasha Williams, representing the 28th district, said that the merger will be beneficial to all parties involved, and that the move could reduce some administrative costs, such as rent and insurance. Although the conversations about merging predate her time in City Council, she said she is proud to carry the efforts of former Councilman I. Daneek Miller.

“The pandemic has decimated our commercial districts and if the unification means our businesses will be paying less and receiving more services, then this is a no-brainer,” Williams said. “I am in full support and I look forward to working with the BID on future projects.”

Alix Duroseau Jr., the board chairman of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, told the Ledger that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the merger, and he is looking forward to what the endeavor could bring to downtown Jamaica.

Jennifer Furioli, the executive director of the Jamaica Center BID, spoke on behalf of President Michael Hirschhorn during the Finance Committee meeting.

“We want to nurture a thriving downtown, and by partnering with our peers on 165th Street, I believe we can,” Furioli said.

Speaking for Hirschhorn, Furioli added that the Jamaica Center BID has been extremely limited in what it can accomplish due to rising administrative expenses. This year, over a quarter of the organization’s operating budget is allocated to liability insurance expenses,

In the 2022 fiscal year, the Jamaica Center BID says they expect to pay $222,905 for their insurance policy, not including nearly $40,000 for deductables and possibly more depending on legal outcomes.

The Downtown Alliance, the largest BID in the city with a $20 million budget, only paid about $113,000 for their yearly insurance.

“By unifying under Sutphin’s legal structure, as is proposed, the liability would be eliminated and the new BID would not have any legal exposure that the Jamaica Center now contends with,” Furioli said.

Property owners within the new expanded district will be mailed a survey, with at least 51 percent of property owners needed to be in approval of the merger. A City Council vote could come in May or June, which would make the merger official as of January 1, 2023.

Woodhaven BID hosts community cleanup

A community cleanup in the heart of Woodhaven brought out over 30 volunteers to help beautify their neighborhood this past weekend.

The community event, organized by the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, saw sidewalks get swept, graffiti get painted over, and a sense of pride return to longtime residents.

Starting at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue, community members from the local BID, as well as the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, Community Board 9 and youth from the NYPD’s Law Enforcement Explorers program, all pitched in to the efforts on the morning of Saturday, April 9.

The city’s Department of Sanitation lended brooms and dustpans to the community cleanup effort.

John Ziegler, a former resident of Woodhaven, collected sidewalk trash along Jamaica Avenue while reminiscing of the neighborhood he once called home.

“I think it’s about trying to keep the sense of community, like I experienced as a kid here,” said Ziegler, who now resides in Long Island. “It’s so future generations can experience what I did. It means so much.”

On the other side of Woodhaven’s busiest street, the tag-team of Martin Coburg and Kenichi Wilson painted over graffiti markings underneath the subway tracks.

“We try to come support and to let the community know what they’re doing,” Coburg, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, said. “It’s more than just helping the businesses, we also want to have a nice, clean district.”

The two said a common problem along the store-lined streets of Woodhaven includes the ongoing issue of trash placed on the sidewalks.

Wilson, the first vice-chair of Community Board 9, noted that with many residential dwellings sitting above storefronts, businesses often receive tickets for trash being thrown out by tenants.

With residents, businesses and even third-party landlords involved in the issue, Wilson commended the work that both the Woodhaven BID and the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association have done for its community members and businesses.

“I feel that this is one of the biggest, best run business improvement districts in all of Queens,” Wilson said.

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