Monday, June 18, 2012

Daily News, Daily Blues

In predictable fashion the NY Daily News has come out strongly in favor of the land grad scheme at Willets Point: "City Hall has struck a deal that looks forward to transforming one of the city’s most blighted and polluted tracts into major retail, hotel and housing development. The plan has the makings of a home run."

And we sure know for whom-the Mets and the Wilpons-as the subhead in the editorial points out: "Plan will put the Mets' Citi Field at the center of a whole new neighborhood." Which is exactly our point all along-this has always been about the urban renewal vision of Jeff Wilpon and now he has gotten his wish. Not only that, but he's gotten the tax payers to pick up all the acquisition costs-something that the News admits isn't exactly kosher:

"To enable construction, the city was to kick in $400 million to acquire the land piece by piece and invest in infrastructure. The purchases have gone forward, but the rest went off track when the economy went south... The die-hard Willets Point property owners have pointed out fairly that the original proposal called for the city to recoup at least some of the public’s investment by selling the tract to the developer. Fair point: This plan does not include such a payment."

Not only that. The plan now envisions that CiitiField will be the centerpiece for development on the West as well as the East: "The components are envisioned to flank both sides of the stadium, not just one." Home run indeed! But at what cost? We notice that the News doesn't mention the fact that the city used eminent domain to effectively transfer private property from smaller landowners to Sterling Equities-all for the public good of course.

Now we're not surprised that Mort Zuckerman praises this deal, after all, he is a charter member of the billionaire boys club that the mayor has founded. Welcome aboard Jeff Wilpon! And as for the $35 million indemnity that this new unholy alliance between Sterling and Related will owe the city if it doesn't build any affordable housing we hear these kudos from Zuckerman.

"The builders are investing $3 billion; have assumed all responsibility for an environmental cleanup; have put down a $4 million deposit and have committed to paying $35 million and surrendering the land if the project fails to proceed as fast as they have committed."

That should't be a surprise since Mort is no stranger to deals that fall apart-he stuck the city with a $30 million indemnity for his failed Coliseum bid-he know that no one is gonna hold Sterling's feet to the fire when the housing fails to get built but it's a great talking point for him to praise his fellow club members with-and can any one remember when Zuckerman had any bad thing to say about a Bloomberg real estate deal?

That brings to mind the old Tom Paxton song about the Daily News-and it still holds true four decades later:

Daily News, daily blues
Pick up a copy any time you choose
Seven little pennies in the newsboy's hand
And you ride right along to never, never land