Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Crain's Flunks Bronx Mall Test

In this week's Crain's New York Business, the paper editorializes in favor ($) of the Gateway Mall and does so with remarkable disdain for at least attempting to get the other sides' position characterized correctly. You'd think that Greg and the guys would have had the professional decency to invite us in – grill us if they wanted – and explore the opposition's points.

What's particularly disturbing is the failure of Crain's to examine what we have described as the "immaculate deception," the manner in which Related was brought into this deal. In addition, Crain's fails to do any due diligence on the details of this arrangement and the question of whether the city is being, once again, ripped off at the BTM. Apparently sole source deals to friends of Dan Doctoroff and a max $2 a foot rent to the city (while Related collects $40) doesn't offend the paper's ethical sensibilities(sic).

Making matters worse is Crain's mischaracterization of the merchants' plight. In the first place to describe these businesses that have been at the BTM for decades employing hundreds of workers and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, "as part of the underground economy" is simply malicious.

To go on to say that the city's efforts on their behalf were "good faith" is to willfully deny all facts in evidence in this case. This is particularly sad because Editor Greg David has eloquently gone on record against the use of eminent domain, a process that has eerie similarities to the eviction of companies who have done business in a public market for years. Just what does Crain's mean by "fair compensation" offered to the merchants?

For a business publication to be so willfully blind to the emerging new immigrant market that is being served by the BTM wholesalers is unfortunate but not surprising. They lack the cachet of Steve Ross and the boys and, as Lenin once remarked, you can't make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. In Crain's view they are insignificant, not even worthy of a short meeting, and – "Good riddance!"

One last point on Crain's crocodile tears for the "low and moderate income households." In the paper's war against the union opposition to Wal-Mart and BJ's they talk incessantly about the fact that keeping these retailers out will lead to "pricier grocers and even more expensive bodegas and hometown retailers" being given free rein to gyp poor New Yorkers.

With all of that concern for the poor do you think that it might have been appropriate for Crain's to mention in its editorial that this mall's anchor club store tenant would be effectively redlining the poor in the country's poorest Congressional district because BJ's doesn't accept food stamps or WIC and charges a $45 membership fee to get in? No, that would have been fair and balanced, something that this malicious editorial certainly never strove to be.