Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sterling Inequiities and the City's "Wimpy" Proposal

The NY Daily News is reporting on the city's press conference announcing the awarding of a bid by Sterling Equities to build a couple of badly needed malls right next to CitiField. Badly needed by Sterling Equities, that is, because its for sure that NYC has no need for another big box extravaganza. And a number of city council members agree:

"But City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who was briefed by the mayor’s office last week regarding the unveiling, said she was “disappointed” by the plans.“The plan has changed drastically from what we were promised,” said Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who heads the Council’s committee on economic development."

Basically, the council was hoodwinked and now the mayor wants them to buy a fictional housing component-more ten years from now! This is what we would call a "Wimpy" proposal-one that is named after the character in the Popeye cartoon who always said, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Our advice: Don't fall for this ruse. That brings us to the matter of Sterling Equities-a company that, as we have pointed out, is looking to capitalize on its illegal funding effort of the Claire Shulman phony not-for-profit. How is it fair or equitable for a company that was the brains behind creating an LDC that was barred from lobbying, yet did anyway-and received tax payers' money to advance this scheme-to be allowed to benefit from this conspiracy to defraud the public?

So the city council needs to put the kibosh on this ill-conceived plan. It was fooled once, but shame on it if it is fooled again. In the interest of public education we are posting a series of questions that the press and the council should be asking about this new incarnation of the development of Willets Point:

1.) Does this proposed project involve only City-owned land, or does it require Willets Point property that is now privately owned? Which properties?

(2.) Might the City attempt to use eminent domain to acquire Willets Point property to facilitate this proposed mall project, or is eminent domain off the table?

(3.) Does this proposed project involve alienation of park land, which requires approval of the state legislature?

(4.) How is it that Sterling Equities -- owned by the owners of the Mets -- is considered eligible to win this bid, when the Mets were heavy financiers of Claire Shulman's LDC, which unlawfully lobbied to influence legislation authorizing the development, and when Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber could not rule out the possibility that theLDC's member firms would be prohibited from bidding for the project?

(5.) On what basis should anyone believe that a shopping mall is an appropriate use for property adjacent to CitiField?

(6.) What kinds of tenants are expected within the mall? Is Walmart one of them?

(7.) Does the City intend to construct the new Van Wyck access ramps to facilitate this proposed mall project, or are the ramps unnecessary?

(8.) What price will Sterling/Related pay the City for Willets Point property already owned by the City? How does that price compare with the purchase price(s) that were paid bythe City?

(9.) No plan has ever been announced to relocate Willets Point automotive tenant businesses in large groups, as necessary to best ensure their collective survival. Will this be done? Where are the relocation sites?

(10.) Isn't this proposed project just a pretext to clear some Willets Point property prior to the 2013 MLB All Star Game?