Indeed, two of Avella's issues barely registered with the crowd of supporters behind him: lowered taxes and a revamped education system. Rather, they applauded heartily when he condemned overdevelopment, asserting that the real estate industry has too much power and "the city has done very little to preserve quality of life."
"Overdevelopment," he said, "is destroying the character of every community. That absolutely must stop."
Brooklyn in the house
While most of Avella's supporters appeared to be from Queens, I did spot a couple of Brooklyn activists in the crowd. Avella has opposed the Atlantic Yards plan and the use of eminent domain, though his opposition to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, which does have support in Brownstone Brooklyn, might put him out of synch with some Brooklyn supporters.
Asked if he felt he was handicapped facing politicians with stronger Manhattan or citywide identities--other candidates include fellow Democrats like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Comptroller William Thompson--Avella declared, "The issues are the same. It all revolves around planning, development, quality of life."
After leaving Avella's press conference, where some supporters carried signs asserting "The revolution starts... now!", it took just three stops uptown along the #6 subway line to visit the New York Observer's Luxury Living: New York Condo Showcase at the Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston streets.
Compared to the crowd at City Hall, this group was less gritty and better-dressed. There was a bar, musical entertainment, and other festive accoutrements. And all these projects, and their buyers, gain benefits from the belatedly-reformed 421-a tax break, which has fueled development all over the city, including the Queens districts that constitute Avella's base.
Booths showed off eight condo developments from the Upper West Side, eight from the Upper East Side, two from Midtown East, three from Midtown West, seven from Downtown, two from Riverdale, one from Long Island City--and seven from Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn list:
One Brooklyn Bridge Park
150 Myrtle Avenue
One Hanson Place
Note how the display for Forte condos in Fort Greene used the brownstone scale of the rest of the neighborhood as a selling point.
There was obviously lots of revenue attached to the event, but a nonprofit organization got the proceeds from ticket sales ($5-$10):
The Coalition for the Homeless is among the nation's oldest and most progressive advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children. We are dedicated to the principle that decent shelter, sufficient food, affordable housing, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society.