Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wasted Days, and Wasted Nights

As we have been speculating, the West Harlem LDC is having great difficulty coming up with a consensus on the items that it would like to see in a community benefits agreement. In yesterday's Crain's Insider, the newsletter reported that the LDC couldn't get its act together: "Discussions about a community benefits agreement as part of the Columbia University expansion have stalled because both sides are waiting for the other to initiate a
proposal, insiders say."

It's the old, "a camel is a horse put together by committee," scenario-with no strong community leadership and an LDC that is being advised by Jesse James Masyr, the proverbial fox in the chicken coop. All of which leaves the community reps on the LDC stymied: "Members of the West Harlem Local Development Corp., which represents community interests, are frustrated. One insider says they feel outdone by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who won
concessions from Columbia, including a $20 million housing fund. But they don’t believe that Stringer’s pact compensates adequately for the displacement of businesses and residents."

Something, however, must give here. The LDC is being relied on to garner the kind of concessions that will allow the City Council to give the project a green light when it votes on the development shortly after the first of the year. Without the LDC's input, the Council may be left to its own creative devices-and the proposed Nick Sprayregen land swap, in exchange for a chunk of affordable housing, may just be thrust front and center as part of an overall community benefit.