Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Related, But to Whom?

Eliot Brown has an interesting little story in the Observer about the unusual display of obsequiousness exhibited by Mike Bloomberg when it comes to the Related Companies: "For the second day in a row, Mayor Bloomberg is headed to the West Side for a late morning press conference. And, once again, the mayor will be hailing progress on a development project by the Related Companies, the active real estate firm that was last week denied by the City Council in its bid to turn a Bronx armory into a mall."

Can you say favored nation, anyone? Brown can: "The giant firm is probably the city's busiest developer, and has long been considered to be close to the Bloomberg administration, particularly during the reign of Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who was an old friend of Related Chairman Stephen Ross. That close relationship has attracted criticism at times, particularly in the run-up to the Olympic bid in 2005, but generally the firm is quite effective at executing on projects (the Time Warner Center site, for instance, stagnated for more than 12 years before Related was selected to build on it)."

Yes, the Bagli story was a good one, but we did the full monty on the incestuous Ross/Doctoroff affair; and the city's love affair with Related seems to have survived Deputy Dan's departure-as the famous Bloomberg phone call on behalf of Jeff Blau dramatizes quite well. Courtesy of the Observer: "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...Blau is the president of Related, a major real estate firm in the city."

What's compelling about a living wage, especially when it might ruin a great friendship between masters of the universe? Someone should take a hard look at all of the favoritism going the way of Related over the past eight years-and it didn't even have to contribute to the Bloomberg campaign. Some things are more important than money, right?