2012 OTTY Awards: A Community Builder with An Eye on Madison Avenue

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By Laura Shin

For Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), creating a sense of community is not only an important responsibility, it's also his favorite part of the job.

"It's a lot of fun to meet the retailers, to work with them and get to know them," Bauer said. "We have an exciting group of people that run our stores who are really committed. It's a pleasure to come up with new ideas with them and build the community."

It was that same sense of community that helped Madison Avenue have a strong resurgence after it was challenged by the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, he said.

Bauer said the recession did affect business conditions in the district but that retailers and the BID banded together to come up with new ideas to keep the street strong.

One example is an event that was started last year called Watch Week. The second annual Watch Week, organized by Madison Avenue BID and the Wall Street Journal, will take place April 28-May 4. The week consists of a series of activities for watch collectors and connoisseurs as 18 watch brands showcase their new models.

The district has made a strong comeback, Bauer said. Fourteen new stores opened there in the last six months of 2011; in March, Bauer said he saw three new stores open in less than a week.

"We're seeing a lot of new retailers coming here," he said. "Madison Avenue has an important role in the New York City economy. We have a particular niche in the market and we attract visitors from all over the world."

Madison Avenue BID provides supplemental security and sanitation services to the area. It also has a capital improvement program and marketing and promotional programming for the various establishments on Madison Avenue.

Bauer, 45, joined the BID in 1999. Previously, he worked with the Lower East Side BID. He's a native New Yorker from Brooklyn and now lives in Queens with his family.

"He's a community leader and I think his role has been a pacesetter," said Barry Schneider, a member of Community Board 8 who nominated Bauer for an OTTY. "He's forward-thinking, hard-working and dedicated to the interest of the Madison Avenue property owners."

Bauer is also innovative when it comes to charity events, Schneider said, describing Bauer's role in organizing Miracle on Madison, an event last December that raised funds for the Children's Aid Society.

Other charity events organized by the BID include a gallery walk last May that raised funds for public schools and the Madison Avenue Pink Ribbon Project last October that raised money for local breast cancer charities.

Looking ahead, Bauer said his goals include creating new events, particularly in a way that maintains Madison Avenue as a place that attracts visitors from abroad as well as welcomes the residents of the Upper East Side.

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