Friday, June 29, 2012

Local Deception Corporation

There is a good reason why the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp. has resisted all efforts to have it classified as a public authority-an arm of the NYC EDC in this case. If so classified the thinly disguised front group for certain real estate interests would have been forced to submit its records to public scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act. And what a treasure trove that can of inquiry would yield!

Let's be very clear folks. This LDC was created by and for real estate entities like Sterling Equities and TDC-and its birth was midwifed by Claire Shulman who goes back a long, long way indeed with these real estate interests. Now, having already used subterfuge and illegal tactics to win development rights for Sterling Equities in the West Side of the Flushing River, the LDC has its sights set on the river's eastern flank. As the Queens Tribune points out:

The local development corporation helmed by former Borough President Claire Shulman had a second public hearing last week on its vision to transform the Flushing waterfront east of College Point Boulevard into a coastal parkland and mixed-use development."

What's the goal here? Nothing less than the transformation of the Flushing waterfront-an effort that will raise the real estate value of a significant swath of property that by accident is owned by the aforementioned TDC:

"The Flushing waterfront is an area of grossly untapped potential,” said Nick Roberts, project manager for the LDC, who along with his colleagues projected that the 60-acre area mainly comprised of industrial or unused lots could eventually handle an additional 2 million square feet or 1,600 units of housing, 140,000 square feet of entertainment space and 95,000 square feet of retail, among other potential uses."

What a boon for the lucky TDC folks. And it is also no accident that this local deception corporation sees this as complementary to the fiasco it has wrought over at Willets Point: " It is designed to complement another proposed development at Willets Point across the river. Shulman’s vision even includes a footbridge between the two."

What we have here is very plain to see-a group masquerading as simply an advocate for the public interest has been able to garner public funds to devise plans to transform an "underutilized" area for the benefit of one of its leading funders-the great philanthropists at TDC. As the Real Deal reports:

"The plans, crafted by the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp., were funded by a $1.5 million grant from the state’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas program and aim to upzone the area to allow for mixed-use development. According to the Queens Courier, in the near-term the land would get 600 units of affordable housing and more than 250,000 square feet towards retail, restaurants, office, hotel or entertainment options."

Shulman for her part, although getting on in years as we all are, hasn't lost her sense of humor. As she cracks to the Tribune: “Read my lips: There’s no eminent domain,” she said in an interview following the meeting. “I’m not in the business of taking people’s property.”

This from the comedienne who spearheaded the eminent domain effort of the city over at Willets Point. In fact, after watching her slice and dice the property owners across the Flushing River we are tempted to say that her major business interest involves the taking of other people's property-while fronting for developers who are salivating to take those properties off of the hands of people who would rather inconveniently want to keep it for themselves.

In our view the Shulman Deception Corporation is a criminal enterprise-and her efforts to pretend she is operating in the public interest is simply a cover for her illegal activities.