Friday, February 11, 2011

Hearing Things

Greg David has some wild speculation concerning Walmart, Mike Bloomberg and the Related Companies-apparently seeing things that no one else can. David sees, in the mayor's selection of Related for the development of Hunters Point South, a message for Walmart foes: "As the opponents of Walmart continue their campaign to prevent the company from opening stores in New York, it remains a mystery how they intend to do that. The City Council has no power to intervene in leases signed at existing retail locations, and the company seems more determined than ever to take on the Big Apple...Another possibility is that labor unions and their allies will raise such a ruckus that landlords will have second thoughts about leasing space to Walmart. After all, any future help a developer needs from city government will run into trouble, right? No, or at least not as long as Michael Bloomberg is running the show."

Who in their right mind would have ever thought that Mike Bloomberg would act as a Walmart retardant mayor? If there would be any impediment to a developer, it would have to come at the city council-which last we heard still has oversight over the city's land use process.

But the really risible observation from David is that the selection of Related for a city development has any more meaning beyond the fact the the city has dropped its draws for this company ever since Deputy Dan Doctoroff (a good pal of Related CEO Steve Ross) deeded over Bradhurst Avenue development and the Bronx Terminal Market to Related (without any competitive bid in the latter case).

This makes the following David observation about the Hunters Point award a great comedic foray: "That's the message from yesterday's announcement that Related, the company in talks to bring a Walmart to its Gateway project in Brooklyn, won the hotly contested competition to build affordable middle class housing in Queens. Let's accept the administration's position that Related and its partners offered the best proposal. It is also clear that this is a message that Related will not be penalized for doing business with Walmart."

Not penalized by the Related-fawning Mike Bloomberg? This is all simply a process that Dan Janison has labeled, "patricianage;" the awarding of favors to well connected friends of the Bloombergistas-a phenomenon that we don't recall hearing any critical Greg David comments about; even though Doctoroff and Ross were friends and long time business partners. It says nothing about the ability of the council-should it choose to exercise it-to warn off developers looking to engage with the Walmonster.