Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mike's Related

In this morning's NY Daily News, Bob Kapstatter speculates that, in the end, Mayor Bloomberg will intervene on behalf of Related-and kill living wage in the process: "Could Mayor Bloomberg put the kibosh on the living wage proposal for the Kingsbridge Armory mall?...Related Cos. has threatened to walk away if the living wage demand is included, saying it won't be able to get bank financing because retailers won't move in. But one Council insider thinks that if it comes down to it, the mayor's people "will go to bat for Related and cut a deal [without the wage issue] that everybody will have to live with." They [Bloomberg's people] don't want the living wage, it's too much of a problem with development. Living wages and union jobs on projects just make the cost too high in this city. Once you let the cat out of the bag. . . ."

Only one real problem with this line of thought-and it isn't the question of whether Mike Bloomberg will carry Related's water, he's been doing that for eight years. In fact, as we have remarked before, when Mike takes time out from his busy schedule-and shows a personal concern for Related honcho Jeff Blau's ability to get into an exclusive Co-op-then you know that the ties run deep.

As the Observer pointed out last May: "The Observer's Max Abelson reports that Michael Bloomberg personally called the head of the co-op board at 820 Fifth Avenue in an attempt to get him to approve the application of his friend Jeff Blau. The board did not budge. Citing an unnamed source Abelson writes: 'That source said Mayor Michael Bloomberg placed a call to 89-year-old Jayne Wrightsman, the building’s feared, persnickety gatekeeper, who lives one floor below the Hovnanian family...'"

So, while we know that blue blood is thicker than water, it must be pointed out, that there has already been living wage deals hammered out in the council-and the deal over at 126th Street in Melissa Mark-Viverito's district with hotel workers is one such arrangement that has already passed the legislature's approval. But that doesn't mean that Bloomberg won't be pushing for his buddies.

But it does mean, however, that the council shouldn't be upholding any form of Related exceptionalism. And the Kingsbridge Armory offers it an opportunity to let a new paradigm for development be established-and to uphold the parameters of the city's own RFP (the one that precludes a competing supermarket) at the same time. Will a new day dawn here? Still much work to do.