Tuesday, December 15, 2009


According to City Hall News, the defeat of the Kingsbridge Armory project dramatizes the rapidly changing city political landscape: "Yesterday’s stunning defeat of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to redevelop Kingsbridge Armory—the first time the City Council has rejected a major administration land use initiative—left observers grasping to understand the new political realities at City Hall. Real estate insiders said that many in their industry were looking to the Council’s Land Use decision on Kingsbridge as the key to the state of development in a city rocked by an economic crisis. “It’s a whole new unchartered area,” said Jesse Maysr, a real estate lawyer who worked on the project. “We can assume the Bronx is closed for business. Is the rest of the city as well?”

Wow, we can always depend on Masyr to be solipsistic-and blithely attribute his own demise to unnatural forces rather than his own failed strategy. But what does this really mean? Is it an anomaly, or a sign of things to come? As City Hall points out: "In previous land use disputes, Council Speaker Christine Quinn could be counted on broker a deal at the last minute. That Kingsbridge fell apart so soon after the mayor’s narrow re-election is indicative of the new labor influence over the City Council, according to Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist who fought the plan."

In our view, however, it is premature to see a seismic shift in the political dynamic at the council-at least not yet, as the larger Related development on the Far West Side also sailed through the body yesterday. If labor is emboldened here, it is also true that it is split-with the trades and 32 BJ opposing the RWDSU-led effort.

There are still very powerful interests at stake in real estate development-and this one defeat doesn't signal-in Masyr's words-a no business here mentality. It may signal the need for a greater degree of concern for community, labor, and small business interests and that, as Martha Stewart would say, "Is a good thing."