Thursday, December 13, 2007

Poll results for the New Domino poll don't add much insight, but still deserve scrutiny

Reversing course, the developers of the proposed New Domino development in Williamsburg have released the poll (right; click to enlarge) on which they based some recent newspaper advertisements.

(I wrote Nov. 15 about managing partner CPC Resources' unwillingness to release the poll results; to its credit, CPC Resources did provide the results on Nov. 28.)

There's not much new, however. The questions and answers don't add to the unsurprising conclusion that residents in the area around the proposed New Domino site would accept increased density for increased affordable housing.

A simplistic dichotomy

"Which would you prefer when thinking about new residential housing," interviewees were asked in Question #4. "Taller buildings with some units of affordable housing for the average person or smaller buildings without affordable housing for the average person?"

As I wrote earlier, that's a simplistic dichotomy; the question is not all or nothing, but the balance.

The pluses and minuses of this project will generate much further discussion. Surely the developers can make a better case for it than this poll.

Indeed, CPC Resources has apparently been making overtures to journalists, essentially restating the strongest argument for the project: that the affordability will be "higher and deeper" (as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported Dec. 3) than competing projects.

The question is whether that benefit is worth the increased density, with its attendant impact on the neighborhood, that the developers seek.

A heavyweight consultant

Regarding the poll, the most interesting news is that it was conducted by Global Strategy Group, a heavyweight consulting firm that works with politicians (including Gov. Eliot Spitzer), corporations, and nonprofits.

Similarly, Forest City Ratner has engaged KnickerbockerSKD, another heavyweight firm that works with politicians and corporations. Just as the media scrutinize the attempts by politicians, using these consultants, to shape public opinion, so the efforts on behalf of developers deserve scrutiny, as I've argued.

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