New York Post
November 13, 2012
By Sally Goldenberg
When it comes to new development projects, the Bloomberg administration is closed for business.
That’s because the mayor’s people — with an eye toward his legacy — have carefully crafted a special list of high-profile priority projects to fast-track before Bloomberg’s third term ends in 14 months, putting all else on hold, several sources told The Post.
Those projects include the Midtown East rezoning; the Staten Island Ferris wheel; a Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; US Tennis Association expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center; Cornell’s Applied Sciences campus on Roosevelt Island; and developing the vacant Kingsbridge Armory in The Bronx.
One high-ranking city official said all other land-use proposals are getting completely ignored because the administration will not take on anything outside of its priorities. Meanwhile, the lucky projects it selected are getting pushed through a tedious, bureaucratic approval process at lightning speed.
“You need to be aware others are ahead of you,” said one lobbyist who works with developers in the city.
He has seen copies of the list and said there is a weekly meeting chaired by a mayoral aide to assess the progress of these projects.
The legacy list was started by former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff, who is now CEO of Bloomberg LP, the mayor’s private media company.
As top aides work on shaping Bloomberg’s legacy, one description they want is a pro-development mayor who drastically altered the landscape in each borough to expand gleaming office space, boost the high-tech industry here and ratchet up tourism numbers.
The controversial Midtown East rezoning plan would allow the construction of large office buildings near Grand Central.
City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), whose district includes the proposed expansion, wrote a letter asking the administration to slow down the project in order to review potential problems.
“I understand that the mayor’s term has only 502 days remaining, but that should not be the prime factor for such an important proposal,” Garodnick wrote in August to City Planning Chairwoman Amanda Burden. “There is no reason to move at this pace.”
The plan was unveiled in July before Community Board 5’s Land Use and Zoning Committee and would alter zoning regulations to allow for more skyscrapers from around East 39th to East 57th streets between Second and Fifth avenues.
It could be approved as soon as next summer.