Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for a streetcar along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront may not pay for itself after all, according to an internal City Hall memo.
A confidential memo sent by the administration’s “BQX Project Team” to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in February says that the “successful implementation” of the $2.5 billion, 16-mile Brooklyn Queens Connector “faces several serious challenges,” including its financing model.
Since de Blasio unveiled the proposal in his February 2016 State of the City address, critics have questioned why the mayor would consider funding a developer-driven streetcar through already gentrified neighborhoods, rather than putting more capital behind another of his ideas, a subway extension into working class neighborhoods along Utica Avenue.
The administration has consistently argued that the BQX project can pay for itself, since the city can capture a piece of the rising property values that would be spurred by the creation of the streetcar. It’s a financing model known as “value capture.”
The February memo acquired by POLITICO New York suggests that the city’s confidence in the streetcar’s ability to pay for itself may be wavering.
Among the “four serious challenges” listed in the memo is the following: “Value Capture not providing sufficient revenue to fund the entire project as originally stated.”
In part, that's because, as the memo also notes, it's really expensive to move and rehabilitate the water, gas and sewer mains that lie along the streetcar’s proposed path between Sunset Park and Astoria.