Manhattan’s iconic holiday epicenter, Citi Pond at Bryant Park, celebrated its most successful season yet in 2011 – 2012 with a record-breaking four million total visitors to the park. Citi Pond includes NYC’s only free-admission ice skating rink, The Holiday Shops and Celsius Restaurant and Lounge.

During its brief history, Citi Pond at Bryant Park has become one of New York City’s most popular winter attractions. This achievement was made possible due to the vision and leadership of Upsilon Ventures’ executive team, among them entrepreneur Sar Inbar, executive director of business development. As a development and production firm, Upsilon Ventures specializes in private-public partnerships and the utilization of public spaces and real estate for innovative attractions, concessions and temporary retail events.

Inbar is one of the main players behind-the-scenes in transforming the public park into a winter wonderland over the past 10 years. Each year, Inbar negotiates high-profile partnership deals with major brands for event sponsorships, on-site retail stores, marketing activations and more. In 2011 – 2012 alone this led to the generation of 328 new jobs (up 16 percent from the year prior) and the creation of hundreds of additional seasonal jobs by The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park and its more than 125 vendors.

Developing high end platforms for community engagement, as well as private sector participation, all under an architecture upermanent-temporary model requires a very specific and interdisciplinary approach and understanding of the marketplace, as well as constant adaptation to its needs. Inbar’s ability to finesse the intersection of multiple constituencies and governing authorities was critical over the past few years. Recently, Upsilon Ventures participated in the undertaking of a significant power facility capital project with Bryant Park.

Recently completed, this project made it possible for Citi Pond to access the electric power grid for the first time ever. The new infrastructure replaced the diesel generators used in previous years, providing a cleaner, quieter and more energy efficient space for Citi Pond patrons, local residents and surrounding Bryant Park businesses.

After serving as an officer for four years in the Israeli army (where he is currently still an active reserve officer) Inbar obtained Law (LLB) and Business Management degrees with specialization in Entrepreneurship and Information Technology. He joined Upsilon Ventures after five years of work in real estate development, mainly in New York City, and says the key to his success at the firm is the ability to “identify target markets, anticipate new trends and understand what clients are seeking in terms of the products we offer.” He notes that creativity is also key, as is being dedicated to delivering innovative experiences to Upsilon’s clients and the community.

Upsilon has expansion plans in the works to leverage additional public spaces for community engagement and public activation and the firm will utilize the firm’s unique synergy between production and development to bring projects to life. According to Inbar, they are in the process of configuring three new “hubs” in cities interested in developing a themed community destination. Inbar’s leadership will ensure that they do not inject a product or development into an area without first gaining perspective on the public’s perception and views of the product as it is a main factor in determining the success of a project.

In a challenging economy where people may need to postpone dream vacations, Inbar believes Upsilon Ventures can provide free or affordable entertainment in communities across the United States through partnerships with public spaces. At the end of the day, “it all boils down to the basics of exploiting changes – both positive and negative – as an opportunity,” he says.

Learn more about CitiPond Bryant Park