Thursday, November 17, 2005

Related and Gateway: Can't We Just Change the Subject?

Can a company actually be thin-skinned? It appears that the Related Retail Corporation just might be. In a written response to Matthew Schuerman's article last week in the New York Observer the company objects to the negative characterization (from the Alliance's Richard Lipsky) of the Gateway Mall project.

What's interesting here is that Related's first bone of contention is Schuerman's speculation that the mall may have Wal-Mart as one of its tenants:
...the Related Retail Corporation has stated that there are absolutely no current plans for a Wal-Mart in the Gateway Center.
Notice the phrasing--"current plans."

The fact remains, as we have repeated constantly, that once the re-zoning of the property has been completed there are no impediments to the inclusion of any tenant, including Wal-Mart. The circumlocution of "no current plans" is, as Justice Holmes said of loyalty oaths, "Proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest."

It is no wonder that Glenn Goldstein, Related's VP, wants to change the subject. As he says in his letter, "But the discussion here should not be about one tenant another." Well said Glenn. Related can't wait to get away from any discussion of its tenants and has purposefully avoided any revelations in this regard for the past year and a half. Any tenant disavowal by the company can be simply dismissed as self-serving.

On another front, Related makes an interesting point about the customers who will be able to avail themselves of the wonderful shopping opportunities at Gateway. Goldstein again:
Why shouldn't residents of the Bronx-who have the lowest car ownership of all the boroughs-have the same access to a retail center that offers substantial mass-transit options?
What's this? Is this the same Related whose consultants said in the EIS that a BJ's doing $60 million a year in food business wouldn't impact any local supermarkets because the low car ownership would keep neighborhood residents shopping close to home? Just another example of how the entire ULURP process is hot-wired with rigged "analysis" (and that goes double for the community board mandate).

Which brings us to the "overwhelming" community support for Gateway. Goldstein says that the project has 5-1 favorable rating. Can we ask who did this particular push poll? What were the questions asked? Who was asked? Would anyone print a self-serving poll done by a developer without taking it with an entire ocean of salt? This is the same company that never once met with any community reps but relied on the old greased poll method of political influence to get ahead.

Suffice it to say, no matter how much “support” the project has, the BJ's / Wal-Mart question will dog the application as it heads to the City Council next month.