Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/230 Fri, 07 Aug 2020 10:40:08 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Keys to 'Inclusive Economic Recovery' in New York City Include Investments in CUNY and Workforce Development, Experts Say https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9363-ensuring-inclusive-economic-recovery-in-new-york-city-coronavirus-job-opportunity https://www.gothamgazette.com/city/9363-ensuring-inclusive-economic-recovery-in-new-york-city-coronavirus-job-opportunity reyna rob program

Considering an inclusive recovery in New York City (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


As the COVID-19 public health and economic crises continue, so does the conversation about recovery. This past week, the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a nonprofit think tank focused on economic opportunity and equitable growth, hosted a digital discussion, “Ensuring an Inclusive Economic Recovery in NYC,” featuring several public policy experts.

Jonathon Bowles, the executive director of CUF, opened the discussion saying “the immediate priorities are clear: keep people safe, get people back to work, and help our small businesses survive.” He then posed the question to the panelists to kick start the conversation, asking if there is an opportunity in this crisis to build a more inclusive economy.

The panelists were Maria Torres-Springer, Vice President for US programs at the Ford Foundation and formerly Commissioner of three different New York City government agencies for housing, economic development, and small businesses; Maya Wiley, professor at the New School and former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio; Harry Holzer of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown University; David Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York; and Joey Ortiz, Jr., executive director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition.

One of the broad themes in the panelists’ responses was that this situation offers an opportunity to do things differently and fundamentally change how New York thinks about economic recovery. On tangible ways to spur economic growth and improve equitable access for all New Yorkers going forward, two focus areas emerged: the roles of education and job training.

Torres-Springer said New Yorkers must first identify and be real about who has suffered the most and the fact that the community-level impacts of a disaster, like food insecurity, afflict marginalized populations on a daily basis.

She added that everyone must “resist the temptation to make false choices. False choices between equity and growth, between public health and individual civil liberties, between fiscal prudence and strengthening, for instance, the not-for-profit sector, and instead take this opportunity and turn this crisis into a time when we can identify the types of strategies that strike a better balance and bend towards better outcomes.”

Panelists agreed that economic growth should not be considered in a siloed way, but must be embedded into a conversation that encompasses public transportation, affordable housing, food security, workforce development, and how each impacts the economy. The pandemic disproportionately affects black and Hispanic communities and low-wage workers, Torres-Springer said. Holzer agreed, and said, “first we learn, do no harm. But there is a lot of harm out there, and Maria is right, it falls, and especially in New York City, very heavily on people of color, disadvantaged workers, low-wage workers.”

Jones, who is also on the MTA Board that oversees the city’s massive public transit system, pointed out that black and Hispanic populations are suffering a higher COVID-19 death rate and that the hospitals serving communities of color in the city lack resources.

“The pandemic has really exposed entrenched inequalities but it has laid bare the interdependence and interconnectedness,” Torres-Springer said. “And really shown us we are only as safe as the least protected among us.”

To do recovery the right way, Ortiz said the city needs to bring people in from the most impacted communities, and ensure that they are part of the planning.

“I think what often happens in any of these discussions is we bring incredible people together to talk about the challenges without the perspective of who may be living it on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “It’s important for us to be empathetic, it’s important for us to understand and care very deeply about the communities we serve, but we need to invite them into this discussion in a very active way.”

Jones described the interruption of education, especially for those who were only marginally involved in the system an “unmitigated disaster,” adding that “we already knew we were having trouble in terms of retaining kids of color from poor communities in K-12, but we’ve done reports that show that the community college system in the State of New York can’t be considered a great provider of job skills yet, and the assumptions that the community college system would be a feeder to the four-year system doesn't happen in New York.”

Wiley agreed, pointing to how essential educational opportunity is for people of color and low-income communities and saying that, historically, city investment has been lacking. Limited funding for education, along with public transportation, technology, and job training -- which impact an individual’s ability to access education -- are “historic failures we keep reinforcing,” Wiley said.

“It’s a combination of multiple pieces here,” Ortiz said. “The pieces that were raised before, in terms of K-12, and certainly the higher education CUNY system is essential here, but I think there is also meeting folks in between, the workforce development system, and smaller community-based organizations have done an incredible job of supporting people here in New York City.”

Jones likened the CUNY system to apartheid, saying New York has an overwhelming number of black and Latino students concentrated in two-year schools. “It’s resource allocation, we’re not really adequately resourcing our community college system. I do think it’s a potential springboard.” But we have to be serious, he said. “We have to think more holistically and make community college perhaps a centrepiece.”

Holzer agreed that community colleges are a key piece. “I do think there is lots of good training at the community college level that does lead to good-paying jobs, some of them involve associate’s degrees, especially associate’s in science,” he said. “Some of them are good certificate programs and people have a greater likelihood of completing, but again it’s hard to build up capacity in these programs without money.”

Education is directly related to access to the job market, of course, and over the last decade, there was huge growth in both low-wage industries and jobs for college educated individuals. Holzer said that jobs that used to only require a high school diploma now often require some kind of post-secondary education, and employers have a harder time filling certain gaps. To address this problem and increase access to the labor market, all the panelists agreed there are two main strategies: building the skill-building sector, and working with employers to create better quality jobs that can lead to a career.

Wiley cited “three legs of a stool,” with the need for a stronger education pipeline, better quality jobs, and especially more affordable housing, saying “unless we’re addressing the affordability problem then we are not going to be doing enough just to be doing jobs or just to be doing education, we need the three legs of that stool.”

“It requires a vision that says a New York that we all want to live in, a diverse New York that has all of us in it. We can become San Francisco and watch people of color get pushed out and still be unaffordable for a white middle class, that doesn't help any of us,” Wiley said.

The city’s plan for addressing recovery is also dependent on the level of funding support that might be offered from the federal government. “The point of this particular crisis is, is the federal government going to step in and provide more resources or not those two scenarios create different opportunities,” Wiley said.

New York State and City face many billions in lower-than-expected tax revenue given the economic shutdown and recession brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, and are seeking bailouts from the federal level.

“The services they end up cutting back on most severely are those that are trying to help those at the bottom who don’t have political clout, who aren’t considered economically viable,” Jones said of likely city budget cuts, some of which the mayor has already outlined for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. “And if we persist in that kind of behavior we are going to have the inequality system that we have now just explode.”

One program that the mayor has put on the chopping block is the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which seeks to connect “NYC youth between the ages of 14 and 24 with career exploration opportunities and paid work experience each summer,” according to the SYEP website.

“Summer youth is a good example of when something is hard, let’s just scrap it rather than say let’s try to find the best possible plan to keep our young people safe,” Ortiz argued. “This was an incredible opportunity for them to develop the technological infrastructure that was required to learning or investing in the system from a distance. And now we have a situation where, during a health crisis, 100,000 young people won’t have anything to do. These types of moments are when we need to take our big ideas and apply them so we can move forward in a really positive way.”

“We can’t have young people who are already marginally connected to the economy with no summer plan, no school,” Jones said. “You can’t do that. You can reconfigure it to have social distancing but we’ve got to get young people in these communities engaged and some income coming in for them and their family and some hope they can participate in the economy going forward.”

Holzer added that a program like SYEP “has strong evidence it actually helps students graduate from high school, it reduces engagement in crime, it reduces incarceration, violence and homicides and things of that nature, as an example. It’s such a short-term mistake to not fund those types of things.”

Torres-Springer pointed out that how New York recovers is uncertain because the city is still very much in the midst of the crisis. She added that there are a number of policies that are emergency measures, such as direct cash and paid sick leave, that months ago would have been unthinkable, but a key question is the transition from the short-term triage to the long-term policies.

“We need to make sure people’s lives are secure and people have good wages, have a dignified and rising standards of living,” Torres-Springer said. “We can’t fool ourselves that this is the job only of local and state policy-makers. We cannot let Washington walk away from their obligations.”

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by Katie Kirker, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

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Keys to 'Inclusive Economic Recovery' in New York City Include Investments in CUNY and Workforce Development, Experts Say Sun, 03 May 2020 04:00:00 +0000
Looking Ahead to a New New York https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9248-looking-ahead-new-york-after-coronavirus-lessons https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9248-looking-ahead-new-york-after-coronavirus-lessons bloom sofl

New York must take learn key leassons as it moves ahead (Photo: Spencer T Tucker/Mayor's Office)


Though it feels like an eternity, it was only about a year ago that Amazon walked away from plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City. The online juggernaut was scared out of town by a short-sighted public debate that centered on legitimate concerns about gentrification and displacement but underplayed future-looking arguments about economic growth. At the time I argued, as a former city official during the dark days after September 11, 2001, that when a similarly tough tragedy darkened our doorsteps we would rue the day we turned Amazon and its tens of thousands of jobs away. Sooner than anyone could have anticipated, that day is here.

In the wake of this global coronavirus pandemic that has taken a particular toll on vibrant, dense cities like New York, I am skeptical that we will experience much gentrification or displacement in the months and years ahead due to a drop in demand. Our economy is retracting, unemployment is skyrocketing, and we have no clue when a recovery might even begin. As a veteran of 1987’s “Black Monday,” 9/11, and the economic collapse of 2008, I know that a downturn like the one we are entering has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities, particularly because of the contraction the city’s budget will face as our economy shrinks.

After 9/11 the city’s budget was approximately $43 billion; our current municipal budget is well over double that, primarily because of the extraordinary and diverse economic growth encouraged by the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Yes, that growth came with serious costs like those from gentrification and stop-and-frisk, but it also created the ability to massively invest in affordable housing, parks, school improvements like universal pre-kindergarten, and other public benefits that most American cities envy.

We are now about to witness the reverse of that process as our employment and tax base shrinks in the face of COVID-19. Every job we can hang onto will count. Working New Yorkers will sorely miss the employment—particularly the blue-collar jobs—that we lost when Amazon chose to build instead in only Virginia.

It’s true that Amazon subsequently leased some office space in Hudson Yards, but that represents a small fraction of the jobs that would have come, and more importantly, that space is for white collar professional jobs, unlike the originally proposed job mix for Western Queens. It’s also true that Amazon is a flawed company, with issues about labor standards, support of ICE, and lack of federal tax payments. But we can’t really apply pressure to address those issues in Virginia, and as we stare this current crisis in the face, arguments about tax discounts seem hopelessly naïve with the unemployment rolls skyrocketing by the day.

All that said, it is not fruitful to re-litigate the Amazon deal, particularly at this tragic time. But this period should serve as a reminder to those who fight all economic development that the problems our city faces are not static. New York City is now the national epicenter of this pandemic, and all New Yorkers must fight to restore global faith in our city and all that it represents.

As this virus eventually fades, we must remind people of what makes New York vital, of all that we missed confined in our homes – the buildings, subways, schools, streets, parks, museums, and theaters. We must revive our commerce and our culture, and we must do it together.

This will not be the physical reconstruction that 9/11 demanded. It will be a psychological reconstruction, a doubling down on density that will not be easy given what people are going through. We can begin by reminding ourselves of who we are, the city that was resilient in the face of pandemics past, the city that recreated itself in the aftermath of attacks and downturns, a city that has remade itself again and again.

As we reconstruct the idea of our city, we should turn down the heat and look to the light. Some—some—of our fellow citizens raised legitimate concerns with the Amazon deal, and they will continue to raise real concerns for our city’s neediest. As we move ahead, even as we disagree, let’s listen to each other with less polarization, let’s listen to science and experts, and let’s not just rebuild our old economy and old city, but a new city resilient to the shocks we know are coming, like an employment crisis, a housing shortage, and the biggest shock of them all, climate change.

Let’s look forward to a new New York, a better and fairer New York, a New York where we can listen and learn.

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Vishaan Chakrabarti is an architect and author. On Twitter @VishaanNYCA.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Looking Ahead to a New New York Thu, 26 Mar 2020 04:00:00 +0000
The Amazon Delivery We Still Need: Invest in Public Infrastructure, Not Corporate Welfare https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9138-the-amazon-delivery-we-still-need-invest-in-public-infrastructure-not-corporate-welfare https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9138-the-amazon-delivery-we-still-need-invest-in-public-infrastructure-not-corporate-welfare gov cuomo mayor amazon queens

(photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)


This week marks the one-year anniversary of the cancellation of the Amazon ‘HQ2’ Queens deal, which presents an opportunity for New Yorkers to reflect. That these types of destructive corporate welfare deals are still possible and that Amazon is still coming to New York City, albeit in a smaller footprint with fewer public subsidies involved, shows there is a lot still to be discussed around what - and who - our government prioritizes.

With the quick success last year of community groups, unions, and local elected officials assembled to fight the deal, opponents didn’t get the chance to make the bigger argument against the failed economic development ideas ‘HQ2’ represents.

The ‘HQ2’ deal was bad for New York City. Amazon dangled the promise of 25,000 jobs -- without committing to it -- in order to get what it wanted, which was public land quickly, cheaply, and with minimal public oversight. Why would our elected officials give well over $3 billion in subsidies and land to one of the largest, most profitable corporations on earth for an office they were already going to build and could easily afford, without requiring Amazon to make tangible commitments to the public good?

Simply by asking this question, opponents were labeled as naive anti-development radicals. Nevermind that we are backed by 40 years of research linking runaway economic and social inequality in America to neoliberal policies that shower public wealth on corporations, fail to deliver promised public benefits, and take money away from investing in public services. Economists across the political spectrum from the American Prospect to the Cato Institute all oppose corporate welfare.

However, the establishment’s consensus on economic development limited the ‘HQ2’ debate to the terms of the deal after the fact, not whether the deal should be made in the first place. Many Democratic officials still lazily point to decontextualized polls that claim to show that ‘HQ2’ was “popular” as though they came close to explaining its consequences. 

This mindset has been disastrous for our city. While HQ2 failed, Atlantic Yards, Hudson Yards (where Amazon is heading), and even Ground Zero have all followed the same neoliberal model -- give away public wealth to private profiteers in exchange for vanishingly small public benefits.

As glass towers, a new sports stadium, or a mall disguised as a transit hub rise around our city, critical public institutions like NYCHA, CUNY, and the MTA crumble. Yet the media largely gives cover to the establishment by treating these as separate universes divorced from the interconnected decisions that they make about where to invest our public wealth.

No one in our political establishment is called “radical” for giving billions of dollars of public money and land to developers, corporations, and billionaires while over 90,000 New Yorkers are unhoused. No one is called “naive” for still arguing, despite all empirical data, that subsidizing luxury development will trickle down. No one has paid a political price for when these expected public benefits don’t materialize.

Opponents of the Amazon ‘HQ2’ deal were also falsely accused of not having an alternative vision for growth. The real issue is what value “growth” has in the late capitalism era of rising income inequality, racial injustice, and climate disaster. Given these challenges, we must rethink our economic priorities. If the 2010s can be summed up as “move fast and break things” the 2020s should be “slow down and fix things.” The practical solution is obvious: public investment in public infrastructure.

We’ve done this successfully in the past. Look no further than Amazon’s decision to open an office in New York City without public assistance. It wasn’t attracted to New York City because of tax incentives (though it will benefit from the incentives Hudson Yards received). It was attracted because of generations of public investment -- the city’s density, lubricated by public transportation; its workforce, nurtured by public education and housing; and its amenities, grounded around public parks, libraries, and the arts. These upfront investments created the shared public wealth that attracts individual ambition and innovation.

Instead of investing our wealth in growing these public institutions, the political establishment has been co-opted by big developers, corporate monopolies, and extremist billionaires that funnel it out of our city into offshore bank accounts. Instead of fighting against economic inequality, racial injustice, and climate disaster, this system fuels all three. We can no longer tolerate this.

Amazon has exploited this system skillfully and ruthlessly, which is why many of us still protest its presence in our city a year later. I’m running for Congress -- to represent the district Amazon ‘HQ2’ was going to call home until we stopped it -- because we have the chance to hold this failed system up to public scrutiny and to hold our elected leaders responsible for giving away our public wealth for nothing. We might not be able to kick Amazon out of New York City altogether, but we can rid ourselves of this system along with the establishment that defends it, and replace it with one that works for every New Yorker.

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Peter Harrison is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress (NY-12) and an adjunct lecturer at Baruch College. He lives in Stuyvesant Town. On Twitter @PeteHarrisonNYC.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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The Amazon Delivery We Still Need: Invest in Public Infrastructure, Not Corporate Welfare Thu, 13 Feb 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Lessons from Amazon 'HQ2': Corporate Tax Incentives and Affordable Housing Need to be a Package Deal https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9132-lessons-from-amazon-hq2-corporate-tax-incentives-and-affordable-housing-need-package-deal-new-york https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9132-lessons-from-amazon-hq2-corporate-tax-incentives-and-affordable-housing-need-package-deal-new-york corporate establish hq

The planned Amazon site (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


This week marks the one-year anniversary of Amazon’s contentious withdrawal from its Long Island City plans. Meanwhile, the construction of 'HQ2’ is making steady progress in Arlington County, Virginia, and residents are preparing to welcome thousands of new Amazon employees to their neighborhoods. With its close proximity to Washington D.C., established infrastructure, and educated workforce, Arlington County was a natural choice for Amazon and has been an attractive market for years, with median sales prices steadily increasing between 5-8% annually. Since the announcement, however, housing prices have spiked by 12.6%, and many residents are blaming ‘HQ2’ for throwing the housing market into a frenzy.

Given the fact that the State of Virginia pledged $750 million in subsidies to attract Amazon to Arlington County, it is fair to consider the possibility that taxpayers may have financed their own affordable housing crunch. The most obvious solution to this problem would be to build more housing - yet Arlington is subject to restrictive zoning laws that prohibit multi-family zoning in most of the county. Public officials in Arlington and beyond need to recognize that large corporate tax incentives must be paired with zoning and permitting policies that allow cities to respond to their housing supply and affordability gaps.

The ‘HQ2’ bidding process showed that municipalities looking to revitalize their communities are eager to offer tax incentives in exchange for the promise of new jobs – a competitive bidding practice that has become increasingly popular. Supporters claim that these incentives are a net positive for cities, with tax expenditures offset by the increased revenue generated by economic growth and related "spillover" effects. Yet this analysis ignores an important part of the equation: the increased strain on infrastructure, public services, and affordable housing. 

In anticipation of Amazon’s arrival, Arlington County has started making infrastructure improvements such as updating its public transit systems and roadways. Yet, its to-do list fails to include the construction of new housing - largely because less than 12% of the city is zoned for multifamily development, like apartment buildings. Those restrictions stand in stark contrast to Long Island City, which by some estimates added almost 20,000 units of high-rise housing between 2010 and 2020, one of the highest absolute growth rates of any neighborhood in the nation.

Ironically, the very construction boom that made Long Island City such a competitive candidate for an Amazon campus may have spurred the opposition that ultimately torpedoed the deal. Still, local governments that offer tax incentives to attract large corporations would do well to mimic the LIC landscape by lifting the ban on housing types that can accommodate a growing, economically-diverse population.

That said, many recipients of economic development incentives are starting to grapple more seriously with the disruptive effects they have on local housing markets, which ultimately hamper their ability to attract talent. Tech giants like Google (which received a 22-year tax break) and Apple (a $10 million tax break) are blamed for making San Francisco one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. In 2019, both companies made headlines for their respective pledges to finance housing initiatives in California, with the hope of mitigating the housing shortages they contributed to creating. But unless cities reduce the regulatory barriers to creating more housing for a wide range of households, these generous donations will fall far short of their ambitious goals.

Given the political motivation for elected officials to create jobs for the cities and states they represent, it is safe to say that we can expect more of these incentives in this upcoming election cycle, notwithstanding the high-profile breakup between Amazon and New York. Research on the actual costs and benefits of these incentives is still inconclusive and highly contested. However, looking at Seattle, San Francisco, and now Arlington County, one thing is quite clear. Economic development incentives must be paired with more housing construction to foster diverse and inclusive cities.

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Brittany Mazzurco Muscato is a Graduate Researcher at the NYU Furman Center and a Master of Public Administration candidate specializing in Public Policy Analysis at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. On Twitter @bamazzur.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Lessons from Amazon 'HQ2': Corporate Tax Incentives and Affordable Housing Need to be a Package Deal Thu, 13 Feb 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Special Flushing Waterfront District: A Massive Giveaway? https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9087-special-flushing-waterfront-district-massive-giveaway https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9087-special-flushing-waterfront-district-massive-giveaway as cuomo proposes

Flushing Special Waterfront District protestors


Most Flushing community stakeholders, including at least one Community Board 7 member, learned from a December YIMBY article that a massive waterfront rezoning and special district application had been certified by the City Planning Commission, initiating the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that could make it a reality.

Eager to learn the details of the proposed rezoning and new development, the January 7 CB 7 land use committee meeting was attended by so many unfamiliar faces such that the committee chair asked everyone for a brief self-introduction.

While Flushing resident and activist Bobby Nathan was among a handful of attendees who expressed their opposition to the Special Flushing Waterfront District rezoning that evening, many others in subsequent meetings joined him. Initially protestors were dismissed for being “rude and inconsiderate,” then five NYPD officers were called to the January 21 meeting due to a group of protesters holding signs stating sentiments such as “We don’t want your -ty luxury condos.”

The Special Flushing Waterfront District proposal would add nine buildings for a total of 13 towers (four buildings provide a base for two towers each) in a 29-acre site bounded by 36th Avenue to the north, College Point Blvd to the east, 40th Road to the south, and the Flushing Creek to the west. All the proposed towers except for two will exceed the FAA height restrictions in the primary approach path to LaGuardia Airport, which is less than two miles away.

These towers would add 3 million square feet in luxury hotels, residential condos, retail, and office space. The addition of 1,725 luxury residential condos represents more than half of the total volume of luxury condos added to the Flushing market in the past decade. To facilitate pedestrian and vehicular circulation, a network of “publicly accessible” private streets and private extensions of existing mapped streets will connect the cluster of mixed-use towers. 

The development team’s presentations emphasize the introduction of an urban scale and improvements in the public realm as primary community benefits. However, the architectural renderings underscore the utility of the open space, which largely serves to provide relief from the massive building bases lined with ground-level retail storefronts rather than accommodate passive or active recreational use.

The public realm includes a pedestrian path that will connect the new blocks along the Flushing Creek (which remains polluted by combined sewage and stormwater overflows). The other community benefit is a miniscule 61 units of affordable housing at 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) equal to $85,360 for a family of four, while the median household income in downtown Flushing is closer to $41,000.

Despite the massive scale, complicated and layered environmental matters including the remediation of brownfields and the Flushing Creek, construction in a coastal flood hazard area and hurricane evacuation high-risk zone, and outstanding public safety concerns due to the proposed building heights that potentially obstruct airplane navigation, the Department of City Planning issued a negative declaration on the Environmental Assessment Statement, meaning that the agency found “no significant effect on the quality of the environment.”

The negative declaration eliminates two pre-ULURP opportunities for public review and comment on the socioeconomic, environmental, and neighborhood impacts of this complicated and transformative special district and rezoning application.  Because of the negative declaration, Flushing stakeholders were denied an opportunity for a public scoping hearing to comment on topics that should be part of an Environmental Impact Statement, and another opportunity to review and comment on a comprehensive Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The Department of City Planning explained the negative declaration is merited because the development area is a commercial (C4-2) zone and the proposed new density and uses are as-of-right.  Only a small portion of the development site will be rezoned from a manufacturing (M3-1) zone to a mixed manufacturing-residential (M1-2/R7-1) zone.

Department of City Planning’s explanation, however, is deceptively simplistic.  Since the development site is comprised of numerous lots, several that are large (in the range of 100,000 square feet) and deep (as they are bounded by College Point Blvd and the waterfront, reaching 582 feet in depth) and varied in topography and grade (downward slope to the Flushing Creek), the as-of-right zoning is “fairly restrictive.”  Moreover, the 1998 Waterfront Access Plan applies to the site and requires provision of “a shared public walkway, upland connections to the public walkway, and visual corridors.” Given these significant site constraints, a special district designation is essential for the developer-owners to maximize the commercial (C4-2) zoning bulk and density parameters.

To resolve these challenges, the three property owners formed FRWA LLC to work with the Department of City Planning and a small army of master planners, architects, engineers, and lawyers to divide the 29-acre area into buildable sites that facilitate visual corridors connected by privately owned and managed streets.

In order to maximize the commercial (C4-2) as-of-right buildable floor area, the special district requires a waiver to permit 11 towers to exceed the FAA’s strict height restrictions. Moreover, the special district lowers the parking to a commercial (C4-4) zoning that requires one parking space per 1,000 sq. ft. rather than per 300 sq. ft. in a C4-2.

In contrast to City Planning’s position that the proposed density is as-of-right, a Special Flushing Waterfront District to waive FAA restrictions, modify WAP zoning controls, and stipulate additional state and federal environmental approvals is necessary for FRWA LLC to maximize their C4-2 development rights.  In order words, the proposed waterfront district is not truly as-of-right because the development scheme is dependent on numerous waivers and modifications of land use rules.

The planning for the Special Flushing Waterfront District dates back to 2010, when former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman’s Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (FWC LDC) secured a $1.5 million New York State Brownfields Opportunity Areas (BOA) planning grant.

FWC LDC hired ARKF to conduct baseline land use, zoning, and environmental studies of a larger 60-acre study area. In 2014, FWC LDC transferred the remaining $800,000 of the BOA grant to the Department of City Planning to complete these studies and prepare a zoning proposal. During this stage of planning, City Planning dubbed an 11-block portion of the waterfront area (approximately 47 acres) Flushing West, and expanded the scope of the zoning study to include new affordable housing production as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan. Crain’s New York Business reported on this highly unusual arrangement:

“The role of the (FWC LDC) in the planning process and the money it will be paying the department raise questions about who is actually running the show in this part of Queens and how much real estate interests who support the initiative— including members of the development corporation's board—stand to gain.”

flushing creek

Described as “under the radar,” Flushing West joined Brooklyn’s East New York and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx as the first neighborhood rezonings eyed for implementing the mayor’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy.

The Flushing Rezoning Community Alliance led by the MinKwon Center for Community Action, Faith in New York, and St. George's Church was formed in July 2015 to advocate for an inclusive planning process and deeper housing affordability.  It prepared a report highlighting substandard neighborhood conditions and detailing recommendations for an equitable rezoning. Less than a year later on May 27, 2016, City Council Member Peter Koo wrote a letter to then City Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod detailing outstanding infrastructure constraints and pressed the point that the Flushing West rezoning would be equivalent to "stuffing 10 pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag." ​The city ceded to Koo’s request and ended the Flushing West Neighborhood Planning Study.

While Flushing West ceased to be a city-led rezoning, the Department of City Planning continued to work with FWC LDC on a smaller area comprised of the lots owned by the three major developers that formed FRWA LLC. They are F and T Group, United Construction & Development Group, and Young Nian Group LLC, a Chinese transnational development group that purchased the former Korean supermarket Assi Plaza, after several speculative flip sales, for $115 million. In consultation with Community Board 7’s executive committee, this public-private collaboration completed the Flushing waterfront special district and rezoning application.

Department of City Planning served an integral role in preparing a Special Flushing Waterfront District plan that maximizes private development rights and profits. In response to the 2015 Crain’s article that questioned DCP’s consultant role to the FWC LDC, Queens Department of City Planning Director John Young wrote, “In short, the LDC has no veto power over our work. Rather, the public does - via the city's transparent and multilayered public land-use review procedure.”

However, the Department of City Planning’s negative declaration on the EAS has eliminated pre-ULURP opportunities for public review and comment on a complex special district and rezoning application.  In response to my request for clarification on the EAS, the Queens City Planning office suggested I contact an associate at Stroock, the law firm that represents FRWA LLC.

ULURP ends with the New York City Council, and Council Member Koo’s vote will determine the fate of the Special Flushing Waterfront District. In addition to detailing the challenges due to overdevelopment and the outstanding need for affordable housing, Koo’s May 2016 letter noted that developers informed him the Flushing West rezoning represented a downzoning and since "the numbers didn't add up," “it is actually more financially feasible for them to have an empty lot.”

Apparently, City Planning, FWC LDC, and the FRWA LLC’s army of experts figured out how to make the numbers work to move ahead with the waterfront district plan. The question now is, will Council Member Koo maintain a principled position and reject a rezoning that augments environmental risks and socioeconomic burdens, and supercharges the gentrification of Flushing? 

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Tarry Hum is Professor and Chair of the Urban Studies Department, Queens College, City University of New York. On Twitter @TarryHum.

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Special Flushing Waterfront District: A Massive Giveaway? Thu, 30 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Final Signature Allows Implementation of Cuomo-DiNapoli Agreement to Restore Certain Contract Oversight Powers https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9056-cuomo-dinapoli-state-entities-finalize-reestablished-comptroller-oversight-powers https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/9056-cuomo-dinapoli-state-entities-finalize-reestablished-comptroller-oversight-powers goccuomo con di

Cuomo & DiNapoli (photo: Governor's Office)


A resolution has finally been reached around how to deal with a thorny issue involving Governor Andrew Cuomo, contracting oversight, and the corruption that plagued some of the governor’s biggest economic development initiatives.

As of December 31, all relevant parties have agreed to comply with an August agreement between Cuomo and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli restoring the comptroller’s oversight of some large contracts entered into by SUNY and CUNY and their affiliates, and by the Office of General Services. The agreement is now expected to become operational in February, according to a spokesperson for the comptroller.

The memorandum of understanding was partially signed in August, but as recently as mid-December DiNapoli said SUNY Research Foundation, one of the entities coming under the comptroller’s purview, had not given the go-ahead to bring it from a “conceptual agreement,” as DiNapoli put it, to an actualized program. As of December 31, however, all parties had approved the new system, the spokesperson told Gotham Gazette.

“We have an agreement with the Executive, and we will start reviewing contracts in February 2020. All parties have acted (OGS/SUNY/CUNY/SUNY Construction/CUNY Construction/SUNY RF/SUNY Fuller Road & Fort Schuyler) and agreed to allow OSC to review their contracts,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

While representatives for several of the parties signed the memorandum in August, it still required approval by the boards of CUNY and SUNY affiliates, and for their policies to be updated in compliance. CUNY’s approval came on October 28, and two other SUNY-affiliated entities agreed on December 18. SUNY Research Foundation approved the agreement on December 31, just before the January deadline. No part of the deal could go into effect until all the parties had all agreed, DiNapoli said on the Capitol Pressroom in mid-December, calling the Research Foundation approval “the biggest sticking point.”

“As expected, all parties have signed the MOU and will be ready to enforce it this February,” wrote Jason Conwall, a spokesperson for the governor, in an email this week.

The agreement gives the state comptroller the authority to conduct “pre-audit” reviews of contracts procured by SUNY and CUNY and their affiliated construction funds, when they exceed $250,000. It also extends that authority over Office of General Services (OGS) centralized contracts over $85,000.

The memorandum also provides for the comptroller to send all executed contracts of $250,000 or more, with the exception of Common Retirement Fund contracts, to the state inspector general responsible for investigating fraud, corruption, and conflicts of interest in the executive branch and affiliated entities.

The new powers allow the comptroller to review contracts before they are executed to affirm that they are ethically and economically sound. During contract reviews, the comptroller’s office typically conducts due diligence to prevent fraud and waste, and promote competition. It looks at whether vendors have been found to engage in previous wrongdoing, prices for comparable goods and services elsewhere, and whether there are contract provisions that could increase an  agency’s liability.

The comptroller once had those powers for SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts, but they were stripped with little public attention during budget negotiations in 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first year, as he sought to expand and expedite economic development.

In the mid-2010s when the Buffalo Billion scandal, in which bribes were exchanged for plum state construction contracts, implicated some of Cuomo’s closest allies and donors, good government advocates and DiNapoli himself called for the authority to be restored. Cuomo resisted. Lawmakers threatened legislative action, but nothing moved.

Then, during his 2019 State of the State speech, Cuomo surprised many by announcing that he and DiNapoli had agreed to pursue an agreement.

“Comptroller review may have prevented the $1 billion bid-rigging scandal involving upstate development projects resulting in the convictions of high-ranking state officials and major real estate and construction executives,” said John Kaehny, executive director of the good government group Reinvent Albany, in a statement commending the initial agreement in August.

The memorandum of understanding stipulates that SUNY will work with its Research Foundation to give the comptroller pre-audit review of contracts of $1 million or more. The Research Foundation includes SUNY-affiliated nonprofits Fort Schuyler and Fuller Road Management Corporation, which put out the rigged requests for proposals to build SolarCity, the $750 million solar panel plant at the center of the Buffalo Billion controversy and a key element in Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development agenda.

On the Capitol Pressroom in December, DiNapoli said, “I think the biggest piece that still has to be resolved is the SUNY Research Foundation has not taken the action to sign on...but I am very hopeful that once we get that SUNY piece closed down that we will actually be able to implement that more robust oversight that many people have called for and I think is overdue for us to have back.”

With the Research Foundation agreeing to the memorandum of understanding on December 31, it is now set to go into effect in February. While Ft. Schuyler and Fuller Road have been mired in controversy, the entity recently created to subsume and replace them, NY CREATES, is also covered under the agreement, according to DiNapoli’s office.

Unlike other powers that were restored in the deal, the state comptroller has never had pre-audit review authority over SUNY Research Foundation, the spokesperson said.

Cuomo has previously said that part of the reason for not restoring the comptroller’s power is the potential for delays in adding new bureaucratic hoops to jump through. The new agreement sets a time limit of 30 days for the comptroller’s pre-audit review, after which they become “valid and enforceable.” A report released by DiNapoli’s office last May, showed that the average contract review took between six and seven days.

In response to the Buffalo Billion scandal, state lawmakers introduced the Procurement Integrity Act to restore most of the comptroller’s pre-2011 authority, among other things. Year after year, it failed to gain enough traction to pass, but amid an ongoing drumbeat of criticism, especially after the convictions on corruption charges of two of his top former aides, Cuomo made the 2019 State the State announcement.

The agreement is voluntary and contains language stating it can be terminated within ten days by either the governor or comptroller. Good government advocates still want to see it codified into law.

“We hope momentum from completing this voluntary agreement continues and the Governor and Comptroller work together to pass a law in the 2020 session making the agreement permanent,” wrote Kaehny.

Neither codifying the agreement nor passing the Procurement Integrity Act were part of Cuomo’s very limited State of the State government ethics agenda, announced last week.

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by Ethan Geringer-Sameth, reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Final Signature Allows Implementation of Cuomo-DiNapoli Agreement to Restore Certain Contract Oversight Powers Thu, 16 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Manufacturing is Alive and Well in New York City, But It Looks A Lot Different Than It Used To https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9039-manufacturing-is-alive-and-well-in-new-york-city-but-it-looks-a-lot-different-than-it-used-to https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9039-manufacturing-is-alive-and-well-in-new-york-city-but-it-looks-a-lot-different-than-it-used-to created ferry yards

(photo via the Mayor's Office)


As the spring semester begins for New York’s high school and undergraduate students, many will soon shift their focus from studies to a career. Generations ago, the options were pretty straightforward for students without an advanced degree: build something or sell something. Today, the job market is quite different.

The information age has opened up all kinds of new opportunities for young people. At the same time, the traditional industrial or manufacturing job has changed as a result. Those who “build something” spend as much time typing up code as pounding out widgets.

Indeed, manufacturing has not left New York—it’s evolved and grown. Largely gone are the massive factory floors and smoke stacks. In their place, we now have clean rooms and miles of fiber optic cable. Are things still made in New York? Yes, lots of things. How they are made, however, looks more like the Jetsons than the Flintstones.

But education and training have not caught up to the new manufacturing age in New York, and now there is a skills – and, frankly, perception – gap when it comes to attracting new workers to growing industries that desperately need to fill well-paying jobs. These jobs include interesting careers in green manufacturing, marrying tech with manufacturing, and local projects related to smart city upgrades.

So how do we close the gap? Through education and training programs, and by actively engaging young people about the opportunities available to them in New York’s modern manufacturing sector.

For instance, here is how companies like ours – Quadlogic and Lee Spring – have adapted and are working to address these challenges.

Lee Spring has been manufacturing metal springs, wire forms and stampings in New York for more than a century. How Lee Spring makes its products has changed remarkably, however. Lee Spring used to physically make each part step-by-step, requiring a labor-intensive multi-step process using multiple machines.

Today, the company has developed automated systems that make the entire part in one step, are calibrated and controlled by technology-enabled factory teams, and monitored by a management team working away from the factory floor. This technology has allowed us to grow internationally, with facilities in six different countries, all overseen by our management team at computers in Brooklyn.

Quadlogic is a relatively new company, making smart meters for municipalities, including New York City. But Quadlogic doesn’t just build the meters here—it has developed a team of information workers who also help cities optimize use of the meters through the Internet of Things. Quadlogic is both a manufacturer and an information company.

And the efficiencies that technology created also allows for relatively modest energy use. There are no smoke stacks at our facilities. They have been replaced by highly-tuned quality-control systems that minimize our carbon footprint.

That’s what manufacturing in 2019 looks like in New York. And we have entry-level jobs available that can easily approach six-figures, even without a four-year college degree and the debt that comes with it. The average manufacturing and industrial sector wage in New York is $65,000. Yet we struggle to find applicants, nevermind good candidates—even though no manufacturing background is typically needed, and most training is on-the-job. Digital skills are a huge plus though.

For those young people interested in a manufacturing career in New York, there are also great programs to put you on a clear path to a good-paying job. High school students can take advantage of the Career Technical Education Industry Scholars Program, which places students with firms like ours. And ApprenticeNYC is a 10-week training program that teaches fundamentals that almost anyone in manufacturing needs to have—blueprints, measuring instruments, and safe workplace training. We have benefited greatly from these programs, often hiring students directly from them who have gone on to take important roles at our companies.

So, for students and others looking for a well-paying, interesting job in an innovative information-age field, there is no reason to leave New York for Silicon Valley. Technology has changed manufacturing in New York. We are not the past; we are the future. And our potential for growth and success is limited only by our innovation, imagination, and finding the next generation of New Yorkers looking to build things in the greatest city in the world.

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Thomas George is the Vice President of Technology at Quadlogic. Al Mangels is the President of Lee Spring Company and a member of the Executive Board of the NYC Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Council (MaiiC).

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Manufacturing is Alive and Well in New York City, But It Looks A Lot Different Than It Used To Wed, 15 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Where Did Hudson Yards Come From? This Little-Known Report Helped Start It All https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9049-where-hudson-yards-come-from-little-known-schumer-report-helped-start-it-all https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9049-where-hudson-yards-come-from-little-known-schumer-report-helped-start-it-all photo coach atrium view photo credit steve freihon

(photo: Hudson Yards)


Today Hudson Yards is largely described as a billionaires’ fantasy, but in fact it’s a rare instance of the city, state and federal governments partnering to create a strategy to help ensure New York City’s position as the world’s commercial capital. And it has an interesting origin story few may be aware of.

Three months to the day before planes were flown into the World Trade Center, a little-known, but important report was issued by a group convened by New York Senator Chuck Schumer and dubbed the “Group of 35.” Largely a wonky urban policy piece, the report called for the public sector to take a much more proactive role in supporting future commercial development in the city.

In spite of the robust economy that the city enjoyed in the late 1990s, the report painted a dire picture of the future of commercial development in New York. The cyclical nature of the commercial real estate market was highlighted as a series of booms and busts that challenged any strategic and comprehensive approach to new development. According to the report, if the city didn’t take action to help increase the supply of new space, “New York City will miss out on hundreds of thousands of new jobs and increased economic activity in the next 20 years.”

Ironically, in New York City the crash of the early 1990s was good for new and growing companies to find plentiful and cheap space for expansion, but by the late ‘90s there was a growing concern that there wasn’t enough space to support future employment.

Looking forward, the report anticipated that New York City would add nearly 600,000 jobs over the next 20 years, half of which would be office-based. The city would need 23 million square feet of new office space over the next 20 years and an additional 60 million square feet thereafter through 2050. Looking at the development trends of the previous decade, construction had all but stalled for new office space. The city’s development market was paralyzed.

The report concluded dramatically that the city “office market was in a space crisis by the end of 2000.” New York lagged other cities through the 1990s, and over half of new office space built in the region occurred outside the city.

Hudson County, New Jersey was seen as particularly competitive; the report noted that from 1997 to 2000, more than a dozen companies moved from New York to New Jersey to occupy 6 million square feet of space in Hudson County alone, with 30,000 jobs lost in those moves.

There were substantial barriers to new development, largely as a result of the boom and bust cycle. Both physical and financial barriers stymied new development across the city, and particularly in Manhattan. The physical constraints were predominantly around land, the lack of available sites, and the appropriate zoning to promote substantial new development.

In terms of the financial constraints, in spite of a strong real estate market, rents were still not high enough to support new development and lenders’ requirements for financing were too restrictive except for the largest and most credit-worthy tenants.

So given the historical boom and bust cycle of real estate development, coupled with the physical and financial constraints, the Group of 35 put forth a Commercial Development Strategy for New York City, primarily focused on creating new commercial business districts (CBDs) for the city to keep pace with the competition that it was facing both regionally and nationally. 

footage office

While there were a number of recommendations for relief from the high real estate taxes paid by developers and their tenants, the Group of 35’s “most ambitious component” was the creation of new and expanded CBDs. New CBDs were called for in both Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, but the most radical idea was the creation of the new CBD in Manhattan. 

For much of its history, Manhattan business was centered in Lower Manhattan. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, with the creation of the first subway in 1904, that development, and particularly office-related uses moved to Midtown. By the mid-20th century, Midtown had largely overtaken Lower Manhattan as the premiere office district in the city. And in spite of numerous attempts to revitalize Lower Manhattan, Midtown still commanded significantly higher rents. As a result of the strength of this market, Midtown was essentially “full.” There were no available sites for significant new development in Midtown -- the Far West Side beckoned.

With the increasing office activity on Manhattan’s West Side, thanks to the redevelopment of Times Square, the Far West Side appeared as a “natural” extension to midtown. It had adjacency to regional connections at Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Hudson River ferries, the West Side Highway, and the Lincoln Tunnel. In spite of these connections, the neighborhood was highly underutilized with surface transportation uses, vacant lots, and a low population density. There was also space to accommodate large-scale development above the MTA’s West Side Rail Yards. 

Interestingly, there was not one mention in the report of the High Line, which would eventually become one of the most significant components of the development of Hudson Yards and west Chelsea in the 2000s.

But there were significant obstacles to developing the Far West Side, including the lack of subway access and low-density zoning. An innovative strategy was put forth to extend the 7 subway line through the use of tax increment financing to help pay for the extension. 

In 2005, thanks to a massive rezoning led by the city that laid the groundwork for over 40 million square feet of new development, Hudson Yards was born. To create the necessary commercial anchor for the neighbrohood, the MTA and the City teamed up in 2007 to issue RFP’s for massive development over the MTA’s west side rail yards. The MTA also built a grand new 7 subway station that opened in 2012 with city funding in an all too rare example of intergovernmental cooperation and mutual support.

Hudson Yards has transformed a large swathe of Manhattan with a bustling new office district. According to JLL, nearly 8 million square feet of new office space has been built and occupied to date, and another 8 million more square feet of space is under construction and largely pre-sold or pre-leased. Hudson Yards is already providing nearly twice the amount of space built in the entire city in the 1990s.

Today, the city is enjoying office employment at a historic high of 1.97 million jobs versus a low of 1.65 million in January 2010. While we cannot only give credit to the Group of 35 for their vision in anticipating the need for all this space, we should appreciate and learn from their foresight in giving New York City a strategy to be proactive in the creation of new business districts to help feed the engine of economic growth in this city.

It almost seems laughable today to even consider competition from Hudson County, New Jersey, but at the turn of the last century there was a real threat to New York City’s dominance as a commercial capital from regional office markets. Before we take for granted the glittering skyscrapers, new subway, and expansive parks that now dot the skyline and streetscape of the West Side of Manhattan, we should remember the thoughtful, balanced, and proactive planning that went into making happen. 

group schumer

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Michael M. Samuelian, FAIA, AICP, is the founder of Samuelian Consulting LLC and an adjunct professor at Cooper Union. He was previously President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island and, prior to that, a Vice President of Planning and Design with Related Companies. He will be teaching a seminar on the development of Hudson Yards at the Yale School of Architecture this semester.

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Where Did Hudson Yards Come From? This Little-Known Report Helped Start It All Tue, 14 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Neighborhood Equity Ownership Plans: How Would They Work? https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9032-neighborhood-equity-ownership-plans-how-would-they-work https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/9032-neighborhood-equity-ownership-plans-how-would-they-work marsh ave exped

(photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


[This article is a follow-up to Dr. Goodman’s August op-ed: Replacing Unsuccessful ‘Community Benefits Agreements’ with Neighborhood Stock Ownership Plans]

How can neighborhoods defend themselves against displacement, gentrification, and disempowerment in an age of corporate domination? How can communities fend off rezoning, upzoning, and the usurping of neighborhood identity? Most people agree that Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) don’t work for communities facing dislocation. Historically, these agreements have been tools used by developers to attenuate neighborhood opposition to mega-projects like stadiums, shopping malls, and corporate hubs. Though they come in different forms – jobs, contributions to community nonprofits, free tickets – CBAs are all the same. They are handouts used to cool community opposition to a developer’s project. 

For decades, community groups, community boards, and public advocates have been victimized by the CBA strategy. These agreements force community leaders to jockey for ‘their’ benefits and to ignore the development of the community as a whole. But, the CBA model is ill-fitted to the contemporary development landscape of impact investors, opportunity zones, and a renewed sense of community empowerment. CBAs are unenforceable by the community, and to the developer, they are nothing more than the cost of doing business.   

I am proposing a new model for communities facing off with developers: the Neighborhood Equity Ownership Plan (NEOP), modeled on the employee stock ownership plans in the private sector where one out of every five workers owns stock or stock options in the business.

This new strategy can help communities compete with a developer’s hired guns -- lobbyists, public relations professionals, and community liaisons. As lobbyists strive for zoning variances, publicists attempt to create a development narrative and as liaisons try to co-opt indigenous leaders, neighbors can promote partnership and avoid being derided as NIMBYs.

The formula for a successful Neighborhood Equity Ownership Plan could be as follows: 51 percent of the project’s stock would be allocated to the developer; 24 percent of the stock would be held by the government; and 25 percent would be owned by those who live, work, own businesses or property in the neighborhood and by nonprofits.

The logic is simple. Developers want control and a return on their investment that is economically viable. But they need government and community partners. For developers, the government provides necessary infrastructure investments, regulatory oversight, permits, and zoning variances. For these expenditures it is entitled to an ownership slice. The host neighborhood will absorb the impact of construction marked by truck traffic, noise and air pollution. Residents and employees will suffer from the loss of public space. Businesses will likely experience a decline in foot traffic. Nonprofits will confront increased social disruption. Stock ownership will serve as a repayment for these and other disruptions to daily life.

Neighborhood equity options would be divided among residents, employees, business owners, property owners, and nonprofits. Here the distributions would allocate 5 percent of the stock to each shareholder category. Residents and employees would be entitled to purchase shares of the corporation based on the longevity of their ‘investment’ in the neighborhood. People who have lived or worked in the community for 20 years or more, for example, would be entitled to purchase twice as many shares as those who have ten years invested in the district. Business and property owners would receive shares according to their annual revenues or assessed value. And, finally, nonprofits would be ‘gifted’ 5 percent of the shares of the corporation based on the number of students, seniors, or clients served.

The proposal for a soccer stadium in the Bronx provides a great example of the benefits that could be derived for the community from a neighborhood ownership plan.

A River Avenue Stadium Corporation would be created with equity shares available as indicated above. When naming rights are sold, when broadcast fees are collected, when merchandising agreements are made, or when sponsorships and suites are sold, revenue would pour into the corporation and be distributed as dividends accordingly.

As it stands currently, the benefits of these revenue streams would bypass those most impacted by a home for a private corporation owned by the world's third wealthiest person, China, the Yankees, and Silver Lake Management, a private equity firm.

More than 30 million Americans already own part of their employer company through stock or stock options. They derive dividends, vote for directors, and profit from the business’ success. This formula, if applied to a changing neighborhood, could reinvigorate corporate-community relations. It could refocus developers towards a more expansive definition of profit. It would convert stakeholders to shareholders. With the government and the neighborhood as shareholders, the needs of the community can be safeguarded.

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Dr. Cary Goodman holds a post-doctoral certificate in development from The United Nations and is the executive director of the 161st Street BID.

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Neighborhood Equity Ownership Plans: How Would They Work? Wed, 08 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
What's The [DATA] Point? $28.8 billion, the State's Four-Year Budget Gap https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8984-what-s-the-data-point-28-8-billion-state-budget-gap-medicaid https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8984-what-s-the-data-point-28-8-billion-state-budget-gap-medicaid whats the data point


What's The [Data] Point? Episode 86 -- $28.8 billion, with Andrew Rein, Andrew Perry, and Ana Champeny of Citizens Budget Commission [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

regional eco dev$28.8 billion is the cumulative four-year budget gap facing New York State between fiscal years 2020 and 2023. CBC President Andrew Rein joined the podcast to explain how the State should get its fiscal house in order. And for a special treat, CBC's Andrew Perry and Ana Champeny discuss regional economic development and New York City property taxes. Each discussion is a quick 10-ish minutes to get you up to speed on three key topics.

Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (@TweetBenMax), Maria Doulis of CBC (@MariaDoulis). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts!

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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What's The [DATA] Point? $28.8 billion, the State's Four-Year Budget Gap Wed, 11 Dec 2019 05:00:00 +0000