Monday, May 09, 2005

The Return of Urban Renewal

Susan Fainstein, professor of Urban Planning at Columbia, discusses Deputy Mayor Doctoroff's development vision for New York City in this article in Harvard Design Magazine. She uses the Bronx Terminal Market as an example of Doctoroff's top-down, input-free development style and states:

As in the demolition of downtown's Radio Row to allow for construction of the World Trade Center, the razing of the Bronx Terminal Market to accommodate a “higher and better use” would enhance city revenues at the cost of destroying a viable business cluster. The change in use would result in a transformation of the employment structure of the area: whereas almost all the present workers are male and many are unionized, the clerks in the new retail stores would be predominantly low-paid women. If the relocation of the merchants does not cause them to lose their customer base, this would constitute a net gain for Bronx residents. The merchants fear, however, that they will be moved to a less convenient location and, as a result, be forced out of business, as has happened to other New York food wholesalers. Hence evaluation of the likely outcomes of the project depends on the relocation plan. But while the intention of evicting the merchants has been made public, their ultimate location remains unknown.

We would add that the merchant's ultimate location (as an aggregate, economically viable market) was never even considered until the issue was publcized in the media and the secrecy of the Doctoroff-brokered deal was brought up. In fact, EDC Chairmain Andrew Alper said the follwing in a letter obtained by Newsday: "While EDC wishes to assist the tenants in their relocation, we have no legal obligation to do so."