Thursday, August 14, 2008

The New Polit-Burro?

In this week's NY Observer, Eliot Brown focuses in on what he sees as a change of direction in the development agenda of the Bloomber Administration: "Though Mr. Bloomberg is no laissez faire diehard by any means, the three projects—the revitalization of Coney Island; the redevelopment of the industry-heavy Willets Point area by Shea Stadium; and the creation of up to 5,000 units of mostly middle-income housing at Hunter’s Point South by Long Island City—seem to have far more city involvement and restrictions than those typical of the economic development agenda of the self-described fiscally conservative mayor."

We're not sure we see the alteration; or whether the change has significance-Bloomberg still has the same giant edifice complex and has no problem running roughshod over small businesses and communities wherever he points his development finger.

So it's no wonder that all of the permanent government types laud his approach, whatever direction it takes. And we think that Steve Malanga's observation is basically correct about all this: "We’ve moved beyond the low-hanging fruit, and these involve I guess what I would call a more aggressive government position because these are really harder, more involved projects,” said Steve Malanga, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute."

In the other cases, all that was required was rezoning-and if we look at Columbia we could say that there was no need for the government to do anything but adopt the university's plan and get out of the way-which they did. The results, however, are all the same: large development bulldozing local interests.

Moreover, it is our expectation that at least two of these last three mega-deals will fall flat-as Willets appears to be on a respirator, and Coney Island parkland is simply a pipe dream. So we might say that, where more Bloomberg meddling is needed, more is less.