LONG ISLAND CITY — A new ad promoting Long Island City — designed to help offset the effects of ongoing weekend service shutdowns on the local 7 train amid an outcry from local businesses — is calling the neighborhood the city's "best kept secret."
The ad started appearing this past weekend on digital screens in the MTA's major transportation hubs and on screens at the entrances of subway stations, according to a spokesman for the agency.
Many had been calling for a shuttle bus that would take riders in Hunters Point directly into Manhattan via the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, but the MTA has previously said it was not a viable option. The ads were developed as a compromise.
Part of the neighborhood is served by the E, M and G trains, but Hunters Point relies almost entirely on the 7 train for service.
The ad features images of several Long Island City businesses and institutions, including the Chocolate Factory Theater, restaurant Alobar and MoMA PS1, along with the words "Long Island City, Queens — on the grid, under the radar."
A tagline below the image implores visitors to "experience New York City's best kept secret," along with information on how to get to the neighborhood if the 7 train isn't running.
An MTA spokesman said the ads will run for at least 3 months, possibly longer depending on available space. Weekend service disruptions are scheduled through July and are expected to run longer for the project, which is expected to run through 2015.
The agency agreed to help promote Long Island City after local elected officials and business leaders complained that the weekend service disruptions on the 7 train line planned for this year would be devastating to businesses in the neighborhood.
The shutdowns are due to maintenance work on the line, as the MTA replaces its old signaling system and makes repairs in the Steinway Tubes that connect Long Island City to Manhattan.
The MTA said last week that it would reschedule work planned for the weekend of May 17, so the 7 train would run in Hunters Point during the LIC Arts Open festival and a community block party taking place that weekend on Vernon Boulevard.
In addition to the digital displays, the ad will be featured on printed posters and subway car cards, though the the exact locations have not yet been determined, according to an MTA spokesman.
One of the images in the advertisement is charcuterie form Vernon Boulevard eatery Alobar. Owner Jeff Blath said that while he liked the ad, he thought it would have worked better as a stand-alone poster, instead of being combined with the MTA's service information.
Blath said business at Alobar has picked up recently because of the recent spring weather, though he said they still feel the affects when the train service is down.
"You can tell the difference when the subway is running and when it's not," he said. "It's clear."
The next 7 train shutdown is planned for the weekend of May 3, according to the MTA's website, when there will be no service between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square. Shuttle buses will run instead.