A new wave of development and enterprise has swept through Downtown Staten Island, and the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is driving change forward for its residents and the charming historic neighborhoods they represent. 


To highlight the local merchants, shopping centers and culinary hot spots in each neighborhood, the Staten Island Chamber recently rolled out a stunning new website directed at encouraging tourism and business across the district. We caught up with Janet Dugo, Project Manager for the Downtown Staten Island Commercial District, to discover more about the initiative and how it impacts the area’s residents.

 

Neighborhood 360

In 2016, the Chamber partnered with the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to conduct a needs assessment to reveal areas of strength, challenge, and opportunity in Downtown Staten Island. What they found was a local call for cosmetic refinements, such as daily sweeping of the streets, as well as the need for significant investment in local business and tourism promotion efforts. 
Through the SBS Neighborhood 360 program, the Chamber received over one million dollars in grant funding over 3 years to roll out a branding campaign and to provide other commercial revitalization measures. Janet describes the goals behind their efforts:
“We already have millions of visitors traveling to Staten Island each year on the Ferry and the goal is to draw them off that ferry and into our neighborhoods. There’s a lot of growth going on downtown and major development happening by the ferry terminal. With that, we want to be sure to support the smaller neighborhood businesses, too, and make sure they are benefiting and thriving as well.”

 

 

The Staten Three

A primary focal point for the Chamber’s efforts was capturing the essence of the three Staten Island neighborhoods under the ‘Downtown umbrella’ in a way that still individually represents the personality of each community. The three neighborhoods comprising Downtown -- Stapleton, St. George, and Tompkinsville -- are each unique and home to dozens of small businesses along a commercial corridor known as Bay Street, with a gorgeous waterfront as their backdrop.  So the Chamber worked to come up with a brand identity for the district that reflected and respected these characteristics. Janet emphasized that “the brand was structured to be inclusive, and community input was needed to communicate how Downtown is united as well as distinct.

 

 

Obstacles

The biggest hurdle came with the creative development. The Chamber needed to authentically represent each neighborhood in a way that appeals to visitors, but also resonates with the residents themselves. The strategy had to include the cultural highlights and speak to the unique vibe in each area while simultaneously promoting Downtown Staten Island as a whole. Janet elaborated, “Each neighborhood has been around for centuries and they each have their own character that people are proud of. The challenge was to ensure each neighborhood maintained its identity while still showing cohesion.

We asked Janet to describe some of the best parts of the districts respectively:

⦁    St. George delivers “spectacular views, particularly as it overlooks New York Harbor while the iconic ferry comes in and out every few minutes. It’s home to beautiful Borough Hall, which is a fabulous building, quite impressive, and then there’s the Staten Island Yankees stadium and St. George Theatre. It’s just overall an incredible vista.

⦁    Tompkinsville has a “neat, hip, small-town vibe with lots of homegrown businesses. There’s a craft brewery and it’s very eclectic -- there’s a big art scene as well. We have one of the largest Sri Lankan communities outside the country of Sri Lanka, which is amazing, and has helped shape parts of the culture.

⦁    Stapleton feels as though you’re stepping back in time. “It’s absolutely quaint, with an old-fashioned town square called Tappen Park, where there’s a sizeable commercial hub and architecturally interesting old buildings. There’s also a cluster of wonderful restaurants that are creating quite a buzz. And a block down from Bay Street, on the waterfront, there’s a new 900-unit apartment complex that’s drawing a young demographic of up-and-coming talented people into the community.” 


Why .nyc?
The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce has produced a uniquely interactive website overflowing with incredibly helpful features for visitors planning a trip to the area. There are color-coded walking maps and photographs that highlight points of interest such as food and drink offerings, recreational and health-centered activities, shopping, and historical destinations. Choosing a .nyc domain to anchor the website was an obvious choice that amplified the message. 


As Janet said, “We want the website to become an essential part of our neighborhoods. When we were looking at all the domain options, it had to be .nyc.  Downtown Staten Island is a proud part of New York City, and we’re looking to promote this area as a destination for local New Yorkers as well as for visitors from around the world.
Janet and her team are thrilled with the initial reception of downtownSI.nyc.  An exceptional amount of heart and soul poured in from the very beginning of the venture and only continues to intensify. Packed with incentives to explore and local news from every corner of the district, the website is continually updated in-house to remain insightful and current on all the communities have to offer and to highlight all the wonderful dining, entertainment, and shopping options.


DowntownSI.nyc has been lauded as a great resource for every member of the Staten Island community, as well as those looking for a new visitor experience.

Map out your escape to Downtown Staten Island by visiting their website at downtownSI.nyc. To learn more about the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce click here