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New York Times: SoHo. TriBeCa. And ReBeCha?

Ronda Kaysen from The New York Times’ “Ask Real Estate” section got buy-in this week from TMO’s CCO and Managing Director, John Marino, on neighborhood branding and identity.

As per the article:

Name That Neighborhood

I have lived on Nassau Street in Lower Manhattan for more than 18 years and am always at a loss when people ask what part of town I live in. Saying, “Near Wall Street” sounds so un-residential. FiDi? Not very charming. Downtown? Boring! City Hall Park? Meh. With the neighborhood poised for a residential boom, it’s time we got our own cool neighborhood name. A friend suggested one: ReBeCha. It stands for the Rectangle Below Chambers Street, bounded roughly by Chambers Street, Broadway, Whitehall Street and Water Street (or the East River, if South Street Seaport is included). So, how do we go about renaming it?

Nassau Street, Manhattan

New Yorkers, especially real estate brokers, have a long history of slapping catchy names on tiny swaths of the city to make them sound more appealing. Some recent (and so far fruitless) attempts include the Piano District, a contender for a slice of the South Bronx waterfront; GoCaGa, a proposed marriage of Gowanus and Carroll Gardens inBrooklyn; and BoHo, the Bowery below Houston Street.

Clearly, not all monikers stick. “What separates the SoHos from the Rambos?” said John F. Marino, the chief operating officer of the Marino Organization, which worked on the rebranding of Hudson Square in Manhattan. It has to roll off the tongue, he said, but “not in a way that feels forced or spearheaded by a private entity.” Rambo, an unfortunate acronym for Right Around the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, does not have quite the same ring as SoHo, which birthed a generation of abbreviated neighborhood names.

For a new title to take hold, it has to have a purpose. Does the area in question have natural boundaries with distinctive qualities that set it apart from its surroundings? Do the people who spend the most time there actually embrace this newfound identity? And does the name make sense? A new moniker “will only stand the test of time if the people who live, work and visit there find it sensible to use,” said Andrew Breslau, the vice president of communications and marketing for the Alliance for Downtown New York.

If you really want to do this, hone your message. Then field the idea with your community board, real estate brokers, downtown advocacy groups and neighbors. If it gets any traction, start a publicity campaign to see if ReBeCha catches on and starts actually getting used. “I am not in love with it,” Mr. Marino said of your suggestion. “But it could work.”

For the full article, click here.

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