Friday, October 4, 2013

Village Voice on Hudson Yards: Great Minds…

Graham Rayman, a very good reporter, follows up on our Hudson Yards post this morning (Or maybe we were following him):
The Bloomberg administration is preparing to hand another $328 million in tax breaks to its favored developer, The Related Companies, for ... get this ... a fancy shopping mall and a high-end office skyscraper in the Hudson Yards project on the west side of Manhattan.”
Needless to say, there are critics of this giveaway:
“James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist of the Fiscal Policy Institute sharply criticized the giveaway, "It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for the NYC IDA to provide massive taxpayer subsidies to a Manhattan luxury mall," he tells the Voice.”
Yah think? And the Voice sees the same bait and switch that we had alluded to in our post this morning:
To some, it feels a little like a bait and switch. Back in 2006, then IDA chairman declared that the tax breaks would be more than repaid by the new growth. The revenue was then supposed to be used to finance the extension of the 7 subway line into the area. The city would have had to make up the difference with its own funds.”
Isn’t it amazing how so many of these deals don’t turn out the way they were alleged:
"It's bad enough that the City is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks into Hudson Yards office buildings after taxpayers foot the bill for extending the #7 train to this project's doorstep," Parrott adds.
John Fisher, who runs Tenant Net, a bulletin board on development and housing issues, says, "It smacks of cronyism. It's typical of how Bloomberg treats his friends. And if you are taking away tax revenues, you won't have the money to pay for the subway extension, and then that money has to be covered by the city budget."
So a real gauntlet is being thrown down to the new mayor-Fresh Direct, Hudson Yards, and Willets Point, all redolent with the same stink of cronyism for those close to the mayor. When asked to comment on the Hudson Yards deal, the de Blasio campaign said the following:
A spokesman for democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio would not comment directly on the proposal, but said, "If elected, a de Blasio administration will of course review all projects with any eye to maximizing affordable housing, creating good jobs and protecting taxpayer's interests."

We’ll see if BdB can walk this walk because we have too often allowed cronyism to pass uncritically because of the mayor’s great wealth. Favoritism, however, is still favoritism, even if there isn’t the tawdry quid pro quo that normally accompanies this kind of political shenanigans.