Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Develop This!

Both Crain's and the WSJ are reporting on EDC's decision to put out an RFP for developers for the phony Phase1 at Willets Point-and the city has yet to put a price tag on this white elephant for New York's beleaguered tax payers. As WPU's Jake Bono told the Journal:

"The people here don't want to sell their land," said Jake Bono, whose family has owned property in the area for more than 70 years. "The whole thing is going to be subsidized by city and taxpayer money" while the city is preparing for budget cuts that will result in teacher and firefighter layoffs, Mr. Bono said. "Where is the priority for the city?"

EDC is playing with fire-exercising a kind of brinkmanship that may ultimately get it into trouble with the courts. This phased development is a violation of every assertion that EDC made when the project was approved. As WPU's lawyer Mike Gerrard told Crain's:

“We think this is premature,” said Michael Gerrard, senior counsel of Arnold & Porter, who represents 10 businesses that have been fighting for years to halt the Willets Point redevelopment. Some of Mr. Gerrard's clients are actually located in the first phase, he noted. “The project is still in legal limbo due to continuing uncertainty over whether the city will receive approval for the Van Wyck ramps that are essential to the project, which was approved as a whole, not something that could be broken into chunks or phases.”

Remember that Deputy Mayor Leiber had told the city council that this development could simply not be segmented because of the need to remediate the entire 62 acres all at once-just another self serving lie in a long list. And the WSJ recognizes-without much elaboration-that the city has other hurdles remaining-those stinkin' ramps again:

"The Willets Point plan has other legal issues outstanding. Critics of the plan contend that the city isn't allowed to build entrance ramps to the Van Wyck Expressway that is needed for the project. In August 2010, the New York Supreme Court denied the property owners request for an injunction to block the project. The city and the property owners head back to court in July. Michael Gerrard, an attorney representing businesses in Willets Point, said it was "premature" for city to move forward given the legal challenges unresolved."

Gee, shouldn't the Journal have elaborated on this point and the fact that we're going back to court because Judge Madden issued an Order to Show Cause? Kinda left its readers in the dark over the fact that the judge was peeved by having been lied to by the former deputy mayor-a story that the paper decided wasn't newsworthy when it broke last month.

We're glad to see, though, that EDC still has its finely honed sense of humor: "We're confident in the timeline for development that we have laid out," a spokeswoman with the EDC said." Which timeline is that? The one that the city had originally laid out with the ramps being approved in the winter of 09?

In our view the fat lady hasn't even begun to gargle on this development-and we anticipate that EDC is throwing itself into a briar's patch that only a certain rabbit could extricate himself from. Don't know what EDC's timeline is, but we think they should publish it forthwith so we can all laugh at its presumption down this road to perdition.