The actions of the mayor underscore just why the House of Representatives passed the "Private Property Protection Act." The congress understood that localities too often used eminent domain to simply reward their cronies-and Steve Ross of Related and Jeff Wilpon of Sterling Equities are nothing if not cronies of Mike Bloomberg. As the NY Daily News reports:
"The long rumored union between Sterling Equities and Related Cos. to redevelop Willets Point was consummated on Thursday. The Queens Development Group, the joint entity formed by the two firms, was announced by Mayor Bloomberg at a Queens Chamber of Commerce event. The companies will be responsible for 5 million square feet of new development — a mix of retail, entertainment and housing in the neighborhood currently riddled with auto body shops."
So let's get this straight.. We are taking away people's property to give it to two billionaires to build a mall? Oh wait, there will be housing sometime in the distant future-as CM Koslowitz puts it, four mayors from now! This is really a Wimpy deal: "City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) was critical of the proposal because the affordable housing component has been delayed until 2025.“Queens residents need affordable housing more than they need shopping centers,” she said."
In the understatement of the year the Mets' Jeff Wilpon waxes eloquently on the land scam he was able to put off: "Jeffrey Wilpon, Sterling’s executive vice president, said that he was excited about the massive undertaking to redevelop the area in the backyard of Citi Field. “This is start of something that could be really great for Queens,” said Wilpon. “There’s a lot of work that’s got to be done before then.”
For his part Bloomberg, exhibiting the need to be put through a blood doping investigation, said this about the new project: "It includes everything we were looking for in the first phase, exactly as envisioned and approved by the community and City Council back in 2008,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the Queens Chamber of Commerce breakfast."
Saliva test please. This looks nothing like what was proposed and the idea that an $35 million indemnity if this partnership fails to build housing 13 years from now will insure that it will come to pass is just nuts-and the city council needs to put a stop to this at once. With the city cutting back day care slots we don't need a crony loving ,mayor giving away the people's land for a hill of beans.
And what about the retail development? According to the Politicker it will be 900,000 square feet: "Previously, the city was looking to develop 680,000 square feet of retail, 400 units of housing and up to 387 hotel rooms on a 12.5 acre site. Now, with the expansion of the project west of the stadium—a 29 acre parcel to be known as Willets West—there is more room for housing and hotel rooms, and even some office space within a 23 acre swath of the Iron Triangle. The amount of retail also rises to 900,000 square feet, though it is meant to be community focused, rather than the destination, mall-style retail that will be in Willets West."
Is the city serious? With the Muss development right near by under-tenanted what does the city believe will happen with this latest malling? Check out Gateway Mall in the Bronx-another development where the lavish promises have yet to be realized. But the bottom line here is that it is an outrageous abuse of power to take away people's property and hand it over to Jeff Wilpon and Steve Ross-and do it for nothing!
But Jeff Wilpon must be the class wit-although that's obviously only half the story-for his self centered characterization of this undeserved windfall-and he deserves the last word: “This is a great asset for the team and for Queens,” Jeff Wilpon, executive vice-president for Sterling Equities said."