29 October 2009

Stating the Obvious

The New York Times weighed in big time on Mayor Bloomberg's myopic vision for economic development in New York yesterday. The revelations in the article should come as no surprise to anyone who has bridled at the longtime, wholesale, City Hall-backed, real-estate rape the five boroughs have suffered over the past eight years. But it's nice to see the Paper of Record state it in plain terms:

The administration’s economic development policies started with a simple concept: New York must grow to compete with other cities.

Development became the means toward that end. Create new opportunities for developers, the wisdom held, and good things will happen for New York as a whole. Companies will rush to glorious new towers in reinvented neighborhoods, diversifying the city’s economy in the process.

Many mayors have favored the real estate industry, whose campaign contributions are often generous. Mr. Bloomberg lobbied forcefully for developers even though he did not need their money.

“I think a mistake that mayors have made,” said Seth W. Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, “is that they’ve really only been willing to push projects where they would be around to cut the ribbon to open the project, and what this mayor has done is to take the long-term view.”

The first obstacle to remaking the city was the lack of available parcels for large-scale development. Rezoning became the solution, Mr. Doctoroff said. He had headed the committee that sought to bring the Olympics to the city and had become familiar with largely undeveloped tracts outside the Manhattan core, like sites along the Brooklyn waterfront.

“That sort of became the genesis for the effort,” he said in a 2007 interview.

The effort became the most extensive rezoning in modern city history. Sections in all the boroughs were rezoned to boost their development potential. Fallow factory sites were recast as places for housing or office towers as the city confronted the idea that it was no longer a manufacturing center. At the same time, the city reduced allowable densities in many neighborhoods that were troubled by illegal or unpopular development.

More choice outtakes:

At times, urban planners have questioned whether the Bloomberg administration has gone overboard in offering incentives to developers. The Hudson Yards on the West Side of Manhattan have been looked at successively as a potential Olympic venue, a football stadium and now an urban village. And the city, through a specially created authority, has issued $2.1 billion in debt to pay for the extension of the No. 7 subway line to the area.

The debt is supposed to be paid from taxes generated by the new development, but if no development occurs, the city could be on the hook for $100 million a year in payments....

Some housing advocates say the gain in moderately priced housing units has been offset by the loss of 200,000 apartments that switched back to market rates under state rent-regulation laws that they say Mr. Bloomberg did not push Albany to change.

“Everyone will admit that New York City can’t build its way out of its affordable housing crisis,” said Mario Mazzoni, lead organizer at the Metropolitan Council on Housing, a tenants’ rights organization. “If you are talking about building affordable housing, the way they conceive of it is as a massive subsidy to developers.”...

“It seems like in a lot of places, the attitude has been like a field of dreams: If you zone it, they will come,” said Robert Perris, district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 2, which includes the downtown area. “It’s been kind of a mixed bag here.”

Brownstoner, assessing the article, said "they don't say so explicitly, but it looks to us like the authors would not give it anything higher than, say, a C-."

The result of this great "vision"? People are leaving New York City and New York Stage in droves. From the New York Post:

New Yorkers are fleeing the state and city in alarming numbers -- and costing a fortune in lost tax dollars, a new study shows.

More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.

The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City -- meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

"The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource -- people," the report said.

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