Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Fast is Over: Gateway and the End of the Bronx Famine

Unbeknownst to most of us there are tens of thousands of Bronx residents who have gone without food for, God knows how long. We are only aware of this because of the shocking information that has been provided by the consultants for the Gateway Mall.

What gives us such a jolt is the fact that the building of a warehouse club at the Gateway site (either a BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club according to the EIS), a store that will be 4 or 5 times the size of any food store in the Bronx and will generate around $1.4 million a week in food sales, will have absolutely no significant impact on any other supermarkets within a 3 mile radius of the site.

The only way this is remotely possible is if there are tens of thousands of Bronx residents who, having fasted for years, are now going to decide, thanks to the beneficence of the Related Companies and their mall, to finally eat. These famished citizens are obviously the folks who are going to feed their hunger by storming the BJ’s or Sam’s Club, and buy $60 million a year worth of food. Knowing this, all the other food retailers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan can relax.

Obviously this is all nonsense. The club store will have a major impact on local stores and the project’s consultants are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to obfuscate this undeniable fact.

Analyze Tax Benefits

We suggest everyone hark back to our discussion of accountable development. This Gateway project needs to be fully analyzed by independent evaluators who, not only know what they’re doing, but are concerned from an economic development point of view with an actual cost benefit analysis. This due diligence would include what the job gain and job loss will be, the quality of those jobs added and the return the city is getting for the tax breaks and low rent generously given to Related.