The New Coney Island - Brooklyn's Times Square by the Sea

Monday, September 2, 2013

Great article on De Blasio and Brooklyn development

Excerpt from Capital NY -

In fact, de Blasio’s record as a councilman demonstrated a willingness to work with developers to spur economic development and tackle the city's affordable housing crisis, using an approach to land use that at times bore a strong resemblance to Bloomberg's own.

For instance, de Blasio, like Bloomberg, was a staunch backer of the Atlantic Yards project, on the basis of the developer's promise to provide union construction jobs and more than 2,000 units of below-market housing.  

While de Blasio fought for affordable housing requirements during the rezoning of Fourth Avenue, he only pushed up to a point. When the planning department wouldn't budge, de Blasio voted for the rezoning anyway, citing the fact that it would, at least, help control the demand for market rate housing in the neighborhood.

In 2009, he pushed through a rezoning of a development site on the Gowanus Canal so Toll Brothers could build 447 condos there. And, when Toll Brothers said they would pull out if the federal government declared the canal a Superfund site, de Blasio backed a Bloomberg alternative cleanup that the city promised would take fewer years and have the added benefit of not scaring developers away by stigmatizing the neighborhood with the "Superfund" label. Critics countered that Bloomberg's alternative clean-up would prove less thorough.

And, like Bloomberg, but to the consternation of some very vocal Brooklyn Heights residents, he supported the development of condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park to help fund the park's operations.

He uses that background to allay concerns in the real estate industry that he would be difficult to work with as mayor.

“When he talks to the real estate industry, he tells us to look at his record,” one real estate executive told me.

“I’ve been in situations where he refers back to Atlantic Yards and Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said another industry executive.

Bill de Blasio represented Park Slope as a city councilman from 2002 through 2009. His years in that position coincided with the rise of Brooklyn as we now know it: Hipster credibility undermined by Manhattan real estate prices, a deep-seated anxiety about gentrification and overdevelopment infused with arriviste NIMBYism. So when, in 2005, Bruce Ratner and the Pataki and Bloomberg administrations announced an agreement to build 16 skyscrapers and an arena at the nexus of Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Downtown Brooklyn, and when it then used the threat of eminent domain to pressure existing residents to sell or relocate, brownstone Brooklyn (or a good part of it) balked.

Residents took issue with the project’s reliance on eminent domain, the developer’s evasion of the city’s onerous public review process, the development’s sheer scope (8.6 million square feet), and its implications for traffic, parking, schools, sewage. Some even worried about the shadows it would cast.

After several members of Park Slope's Community Board 6 voted against the project, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and de Blasio “purgedthem.

“I support the project because I believe that we're at a crisis in New York City when it comes to affordable housing. ... And I think we're in a crisis when it comes to economic development and providing real jobs for the community,” said de Blasio at a hearing in 2006. “But I also want to stress as much as I believe this project will help move us forward in terms of economic development and especially affordable housing.”

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