Friday, March 13, 2009

After taking over Governors Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park, would the city oversee Atlantic Yards? Nah

The New York Times reports today on Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposal that the city take control over Governors Island, ending a city-state alliance and letting the state focus on other projects.

The Times reports:
Governors Island is only one of several joint city-state projects on which the Bloomberg administration has quietly sought an amicable divorce. City officials have grown increasingly frustrated with the partnerships and what they say is the state’s inability to make decisions and commit money.

The other projects under discussion are Brooklyn Bridge Park, which the city would like to take over, and the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which the city would cede to the state. The city would swap $300 million planned for the convention center into the two park projects.

What's missing? Atlantic Yards (among others).

Some contrasts

Now, why wouldn't New York City want to take over Atlantic Yards? Well, first of all, it's not a joint city-state project; rather, it's a state project with city contributions.

However, the difference is not that huge. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC), for example, is a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which is the state agency shepherding Atlantic Yards.

The BBPDC board consists of members appointed by both Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson. Same with the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), another ESDC subsidiary.

The Convention Center Development Corporation is another ESDC subsidiary, though I don't see information about board members.

There's no board at all governing Atlantic Yards, which is also formally an ESDC project.

Reasons to steer clear

Let me suggest several other reasons the city wouldn't take over:
  • the project requires a state override of city zoning
  • a city takeover would make a mockery of the lack of city input during the approval process
  • a state agency, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), not a city one, has proposed using eminent domain
  • the ESDC has led the way defending the project in court
  • the city doesn't have any more money to contribute
  • City Council member Letitia James, an AY opponent, might have some questions
  • City Council members Bill de Blasio and David Yassky, sometime AY critics and current attention-seeking citywide candidates, also might have questions
  • AY is a political hot potato, likely the only project that elected officials and civic groups have opposed as unworthy of federal stimulus funds

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