Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Over-Riddance

As expected, the City Council Land Use Committee moved-15-1-to over ride the mayor's Kingsbridge Armory veto. As Liz reports: "As expected, the City Council's Land Use Committee this morning overrode Mayor Bloomberg's vetoes of the Kingsbridge Armory project in a 16-1 vote, the DN's Frank Lombardi reports. Just as last week when the Councilvoted 45-1 to reject the zoning and other changes that would have facilitated the Bronx project; the lone "no" came from outgoing Queens Councilwoman Helen Sears."

But even with all of the mayor's huffing and puffing, there was no move to sustain his futile veto gesture: "Councilman Joel Rivera, who has been deeply involved in negotiating Kingsbridge with the administration, told Lombardi there were no efforts made by Mayor Bloomberg & Co. to re-start talks after the Council's first votes. Bloomberg himself admitted the Kingsbridge deal was all but dead. But he went ahead with the vetoes anyway to demonstrate just how much he disagreed with this vote, which was widely seen as an example of the Council flexing some newfound muscles against a third-term mayor who won re-election in a closer-than-expected election."

But, as Liz points out, the living wage issue is alive and well: "The issue of living wage is far from over, Lombardi notes. Councilman Oliver Koppell and Councilwoman Anabel Palma had introduced a bill that would give the Council the power to impose living wage requirements on all publicly-financed projects. Also, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum have pledged to keep the living wage pressure on at the state level through proposed IDA reform."

As far as the Armory itself, it looks as if it is back to the drawing board-with any legal challenge seen as suicidal for the omnipresent developer: "As for Kingsbridge, Related Companies has at least two alternatives - neither of which seems likely at this point. Related could start a court action arguing the Council abused its powers in killing Kingsbridge. Alternatively, it could go back through the time-consuming and onerous ULURP process. Part of the reason why Related is likely disinclined to go back to the mat on Kingsbridge: The West Side Rail Yards, which is a much larger project and is on tap for final approval today."

But if the city is serious about another development concept, our suggestion is leave the Related folks out of it. The company's arrogance and bully mentality has no place where there is any active community involvement; and we really wonder how that Far West Side project will go if that community mobilizes.

In any case, it is a matter of some curiosity that, with all of the developers in the City of New York, Related manages to emerge triumphant in all of the various RFPs that are issued-just wondering. After all, in a city where the mayor is above the special interests, all of these things are done on the merits, right?

Anyhow, the KARA folks deserve their shout out today-in their, "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead," moment. It just might be turning out to be a good new year after all-and we might be re-evaluating our own chagrin about the mayor's re-election, if there are more Kingsbridge Armory battles coming down the pike.