Friday, July 08, 2005

Bronx Terminal Market, Full Speed Ahead

With a whole host of questions still unanswered it seems that City Planning, unmindful of past haste and missteps, is prepared to certify the Gateway application as early as this Monday (As Crain’s Insider reports today). This means that, with the newly truncated ULURP procedures, the project could be send to what is essentially a lame duck City Council some time in December.

Which does, of course, lead us to wonder if the full-speed-ahead mode has a purpose that transcends the normal desire of a developer to get a project moving. It’s always great to speculate but, speculation aside, unanswered questions about this deal leave the development extremely vulnerable if it is given the kind of media attention that its unseemliness deserves. The rushed nature of the process is designed to prevent this type of scrutiny because the more the deal lies exposed to sunlight the more rapid will be the decomposition.

Swap of House of D

Which brings us to the Velodrome-House of Detention swap that, at first glance, would seem to have been obviated by the Olympic decision. Not so! As Frank Lombardi points out today, the city is still planning the swap even though, as the testimony by Andy Alper at the City Council highlights, the city has never even bothered to appraise this property.

We especially like the statement by EDC’s Michael Sherman who, more and more, takes on the appearance of a recorded announcement (That’s right Michael, keep repeating the 5,000 job mantra so that no one pays attention to the give away of city property). Sherman’s take:

… the city is working to make the site available to Related so they can build this important new economic development project for the Bronx
That is extremely well put – “make the site available” – and exemplifies the nature of this no-bid favoritism. Where is the even handedness that is supposed to go into the making of public policy here? Since when does the investment banker mentality transcend the hard work commitment of local small businesses. The answer: Since Deputy Mayor Doctoroff took over with the goal of cleaning out minority entrepreneurs to make way for his kind of people.

Fate of the Merchants in the Bronx’s Hands

With all of these machinations it is now clear that the fate of the BTM merchants is in the hands of Bronx political leaders who, through their control of the Council’s land use review, are the only ones with the leverage to force EDC to find suitable space with the needed financial assistance. The pols are saying all the right things and we’re hopeful that they will be able to deliver here.