Friday, February 25, 2011

Four Flushing

As EDC proceeds in its extra-legal efforts to condemn the property of Willets Point businesses, one landowner stands out-Carlos Canal, the owner of Flushing Towing. Canal's saga dramatizes just how underhanded EDC can be when it comes to dealing with those businesses threatened by condemnation.

You see, Canal actually wanted to make a deal and move to the College Point Corporate Park-as was reported locally: "In a meeting with Community Board 7 members Tuesday night, the city Economic Development Corp. announced that it plans to move five Willets Point businesses to the College Point Corporate Park. According to the EDC plans, Feinstein Ironworks, T. Mina Building Supply Co., Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage, Mets Metals and Flushing Towing would be moved to the Corporate Park and occupy space on two parcels of city-owned land. The EDC said it hopes to begin the public approval process on the proposal Feb. 19."

And that's what did happen. Canal's relocation to College Point went through ULURP and he, along with larger entities like Sambucci and Feinstein Iron Works, were prepared to move-until something very strange happened. According to Canal, the final phase of the approval process came at the Queens Borough Board where CB 7's Chair, Fire Marshal Gene Kelty, pitched a fit about the Flushing Towing move.

As Canal puts it, Kelty screamed at him telling the Hispanic immigrant that College Point wasn't the place for him-and perhaps he should consider a more appropriate Corona or Jamaica location. The insinuation, made right in front of EDC, was a clear one-we don't want your kind here. The Flushing Times has the sanitized version: "The original plan for moving the businesses, introduced in February 2009, would also have relocated Flushing Towing and Mets Metals, which were slated to move to the north end of the corporate park.The businesses were dropped from the proposal after they hit snags with CB 7 and the EDC. CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty said in May that those two companies’ futures would be hashed out at a later date."

Honest Abe, Kelty is not-and his comments about a later date obfuscate the fact that Kelty was not going to allow Canal to come into his neighborhood-and incredibly EDC and BP Marshall acquiesced to the kind of behavior that should have gotten Kelty referred to the Human Rights Commission.

EDC's collusion is manifest-as we commented last year:

"Tonight, a hastily arranged meeting between a CB7 committee and NYCEDC occurred inside the College Point Corporate Park office trailer. The purpose was to again review NYCEDC's plans to relocate 3 businesses from Willets Point to the College Point Corporate Park, prior to the votes that will be held on Monday by the Queens Borough Board. If the Borough Board approves on Monday, then NYCEDC will be legally permitted to transfer the titles of the College Point properties to the 3 Willets Point businesses to enable their relocation.

The 3 businesses represented at tonight's meeting and which will be the subject of Monday's Borough Board votes are Feinstein Ironworks, Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage and T. Mina Supply. Those who have followed the Willets Point story may recall that last year, a total of 5 Willets Point businesses were approved by CB7, the Queens Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council to relocate to property within the College Point Corporate Park. Tonight's meeting and Monday's Borough Board vote account for only 3 of those total 5 businesses. The 2 businesses that are being denied relocation at present are Flushing Towing and Mets Metals.

Although the proprietor of Flushing Towing had been invited to attend tonight's meeting, earlier today he was again contacted by NYCEDC and told that the meeting was "canceled". This outright lie seems concocted to discourage this business owner from showing up at tonight's meeting, and thereby eliminate any questions about why all 5 businesses whose relocations were approved last year by CB7, the Queens Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council, are not in fact being relocated. (emphasis added)

Meanwhile, why the relocation of 2 other approved businesses is not proceeding is unknown."

Currently, Canal is in limbo-with the eminent domain hearing on Wednesday focusing directly on his property located in the fictitious Phase I. Canal, told to find his own alternative site, did find a slightly larger and more expensive location. When he asked EDC, however, for the same $400/sq. ft. that the corporation ponied up for Feinstein, he was shot down-further indication of how the current condemnation process is rife with favoritism and inequity.

In essence then, EDC lied to Canal-and took him through a two year sham relocation process. But Canal shouldn't feel too bad. EDC has lied to the city council, lied to the court, and lied to almost every other land owner that wasn't singled out for favored nation status-lying to Canal is part of a systematic pattern of dishonesty that will be challenged in court. It's just too bad that only one elected official can be counted on to stand up to the agency's outrageous conduct.