Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unaffordable Hosing

The WSJ is reporting this morning on the failed promises surrounding two of the signature development projects of the Bloomberg administration-and in the case of Atlantic Yards and Willets Point the failure involves affordable housing:

"The promise of more than 4,000 units of low- and middle-income housing was a significant selling point for two of the city's largest new developments, Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Willets Point in Queens. Today, they are moving forward, but the housing pieces have been pushed back for years behind other portions of the multibillion-dollar projects, as the boom-era visions are proving to be difficult to see through in a slowly recovering economy."

Promises, promises. But the difference between the two projects is that Atlantic Yards didn't do through the city's ULURP process and Willets Point did-and for the approval of the latter affordable housing was the deal maker. After all, how to create a green new neighborhood without, well, neighbors. So while Brooklyn can look forward to a new NBA franchise what does Queens have to look forward to if the new configuration at Willets Point is approved? The answer is depressing-two new auto-dependent malls that will cripple Queens roads and highways.

Is this why the city council approved the use of eminent domain? We don't think so. The Journal lays this out and we invite rational folks to ponder the future: "In recent weeks, the Bloomberg administration reached a tentative deal with the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities to redevelop a large industrial swath of land at Willets Point, in a plan that now calls for housing to be built as a third step with a groundbreaking by 2025, according to people familiar with the matter. The companies would first spend years building a hotel, and a large retail center in the area before moving on to constructing the housing in an unproven and polluted site near Citi Field."

Yeah sure, that will happen. This is the classic bait and switch with the Wilpons as the master anglers-hooking a land grab that they have been envisioning for over twenty years. Having already hosed the tax payers with their stadium deal the Wilpons have won the daily double-and have done so by crafting an illegal lobbying scheme that created a phony not for profit to camouflage their own self interest. Hats off to them!

But shame on the city-and the city council needs to take a long hard look at this scam. Two malls and all of the attendant gridlock was not the deal they bought into four years ago-and they don;t have to accept the EDC/Sterling Equities sleight of hand. The new deal is a bad deal that needs to be set aside-letting the next mayor decide what, if anything, needs to be done at Willets Point.