Friday, March 16, 2012
EDC suspiciously violating the sunshine law
From the Queens Tribune:
New York City’s Economic Development Corporation has not yet disclosed the names of developers seeking to transform the auto repair shop oasis that is Willets Point, infuriating its opposition, Willets Point United.
This year EDC will reward a contract to a private developer to turn the 62-acre Iron Triangle into what some hope will be a hub of commercial activity; the most ardent supporters of the development dream that the cratered streets that wend among the dizzying number of repair shops, scrap yards and waste processing sites will be swapped for retail outlets, hotels and perhaps a convention center. EDC denied WPU’s Freedom of Information Law request for names of the developers, though the deadline for proposals to be submitted was Sept. 9, 2011.
“It’s important to disclose the names of the developers because EDC clearly cannot be held to its word,” a spokesperson for WPU said. “The need for transparency is paramount.”
Those who answered EDC’s request for proposals should be known to the public, WPU argues, because EDC itself is a public corporation. An EDC spokeswoman, Jennifer Friedberg, said the EDC is still negotiating with respondents. According to a 2011 report in Crain’s Business New York, a source disclosed four of the developers that had submitted proposals for Phase 1. They are The Related Companies, Silverstein Properties, mega-REIT AvalonBay Communities Inc., and TDC Development & Construction Corp. Related has partnered with Sterling Equities, the real estate firm controlled by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
EDC, however, will not confirm any of the names, and since the deadline has passed for applicants to respond, there is no good reason for the names to be kept from the public, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government.
“The developers are on equal footing if the deadline is reached,” Freeman said. “I don’t see any conceivable basis for withholding these names.”