Thursday, November 15, 2007

In New Domino advertising, phantom poll claims support for... New Domino

It's doubtful that any other megadeveloper has outdone Forest City Ratner in the effort to sway public opinion on a controversial project. But the developers behind the proposed New Domino project in Williamsburg, CPC Resources (CPCR) and its silent partner, Isaac Katan, are pushing the envelope in one aspect of the hard sell.

They sponsored their own poll, then ran an advertisement (click to enlarge) based on the poll, offering the unsurprising conclusion that residents in the area around the proposed New Domino site would accept increased density for increased affordable housing.

Those polled also said, not unreasonably, that the lack of affordable housing is a bigger problem than overdevelopment. And, perhaps predictably, longer-term residents were less exercised by the thought of development.

But we don't know what the questions were and how they were posed.

(Forest City Ratner and its supporters have cited third-party, if flawed, polls.)

No data about the trade-off

The poll sponsored by CPCR does not automatically lead to the conclusion that residents support the New Domino project. The huge question in New York City is not the willingness to accept increased density for increased affordability, but the contours of the trade-off. How and where do you draw the lines?

When I saw the advertisement in the Greenpoint Star nearly a month ago, I asked CPCR's p.r. spokesman, Richard Edmonds, for the backing data. (The copy here is from Greenline.) Perhaps those polled were asked sophisticated questions that compared the New Domino plan to the recent rezoning of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. Perhaps there would be data about how respondents were selected.

Edmonds responded on October 22: "We did not release the findings of the CPC Resources June 2007 poll to the media because, when my agency received them, we thought that editors would think that the date, if not the data, was stale. Instead, we decided to go with the advertisement. As it turns out, the ad itself has generated considerable news interest. Regrettably, we offered the poll to another news organization on an exclusive basis late last week. We must honor that commitment and hold off releasing anything until after the article appears."

For reasons unknown to me, that article hasn't appeared yet.

So I e-mailed Edmonds on Monday to tell him I planned to write briefly about the poll, anyhow, and asked for any updates.

His response yesterday: "I apologize, but we have decided not to release the poll to the general public."

Covering campaign advertising

Still, the poll deserves scrutiny, as the advertisement has been made very public. In the New York media landscape, developer advertising is still not taken seriously enough. I've argued that it should be treated as campaign advertising, in which the content and message are subject to close analysis.

This one, as I've shown, would be easy.

1 comment:

  1. Uh huh. The results that they like are released to the "general public," but the raw data isn't? That's just shameful.