Tuesday, July 19, 2005

EDC’s Bad Faith

It is instructive to read the DEIS that AKRF has prepared for its client Related alongside the communication from EDC to the layers from the Bronx Terminal Market merchants. Before you do, however, it is important to point out that these same accommodating consultants got millions of dollars to spew forth self-serving claptrap when Rudy Giuliani was proposing to rezone all the M1 and M2 space in the city for big box use. They remind us of Tom Lehrer’s observation about Werner Von Braun: “A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience.”

Direct Displacement

Under the rules of CEQR a land use applicant must conduct a rigorous analysis if a proposed development will have a significant impact on the city’s economy or businesses that may depend on the economic activity being displaced. Terms such as “uniquely dependent,” “critical social or economic role” and “substantial economic value to the city” frequent the CEQR narrative on direct displacement.

If such a possibility of significant impact exists, the applicant must conduct a “detailed analysis” so that the lead agency can “understand the potential for and extent of a significant adverse impact to a level that will allow appropriate mitigation to occur.”


Two points about mitigation should be made. First, it may include “helping to seek out and acquire replacement space” and/or a provision of “relocation assistance.” Clearly, the City has refused to consider the first option. What is not being said, however, is that the relocation assistance is not mitigation at all because, as CEQR alludes to, the possibility that there may be “unusual difficult in relocation.”

Ironically, the DEIS makes the merchants case very well. As Professor Fainstein has pointed out to us after reviewing the DEIS:
“The text on p. 3-15 indicates that shoppers at the market are drawn primarily from the Bronx and northern Manhattan and that access and one-stop shopping are the principal attractions.”
Additional irony inheres in the consultant’s contention that the market merchants are currently utilizing 407,180 sq. ft. Once again Fainstein nails the hypocrisy:
“Finally it notes that altogether the Bronx affords only 472,500 sf of vacant space (scattered around and not necessarily suitable for a market) and finally concludes that the businesses on the project site "would not have any difficulty in finding alternate industrial space within the Bronx" (p.3-18). This is obviously contradictory and the analysis of the direct displacement effect is not fully included in the summary EIS.”
Reconfigure the project

Finally, CEQR counsels that if direct displacement is to occur it might also be advisable to reconfigure the size and scope of the project:
“If those businesses occupy only a portion of the project site, a smaller project or an alternative configuration that avoided them could also be considered” (p3b – 1b).
Lying and Swearing to It

All of the potentially constructive mitigations are never considered because EDC had an a priori evaluation of the worthlessness of the businesses in the market, a view they have freely expressed throughout the controversy. Unsurprisingly, AKRF, trained in the abject aping of its master’s whims, mirrors this view in their so-called analysis of the value of the BTM to the city’s economy.

Elsewhere we have argued how insufficient this analysis is, saying that it underscores the need to remove the evaluation process from the sullied hands of those who would benefit from a falsely sanguine analysis of a project’s impact. What’s clear in this case is that all of the economic observations done by the consultants are simply made to rationalize EDC’s originally held, jaundiced view of the BTM merchants.

Whither negotiations?

Given all of this where is the ground for compromise? If the Bronx electeds truly want to save the BTM they must do so by aggressively challenging the EDC-Related premises.