If you thought that the inept governance of our city by Mayor de Blasio couldn’t get worse by the end of his administration, think again.
A consortium of companies working with the New York Yankees handed the city a billion dollar development plan for a run down area in the South Bronx, and the geniuses at City Hall practically killed it .
The culprit: parking spaces. That’s right. Parking spaces.
Of course, the utter idiocy of the people who run the city is seen every day in our increasingly crime-ridden streets, in the uncontrollable homelessness, and in the general decline of civil society here in the Big Apple. Less visible is the incompetence of the city bureaucrats who deal with the business community.
It goes without saying that without entrepreneurs and bankers, real estate moguls and restaurateurs, New York wouldn’t be the great metropolis it is. So when business leaders offer town hall a win-win solution – housing and jobs for the poor, redevelopment of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, in addition to taxable income, it is imperative that we have people in government who jump at these types of opportunities.
We don’t, unfortunately, which is why the end of this eight-year plan is such a painful, yet necessary, story to tell.
It’s also a case study of why the end of Blasio administration can’t come soon enough.
The story begins in 2006 with the inauguration of the new Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. The Bloomberg administration has agreed to provide the team with just over 9,000 fan parking spaces and to maintain several fields within walking distance of the stadium in “first class” condition.
Over time, Yankees fans have increasingly used public transportation to get to the game, be it the subway or Metro North, because it’s an easy commute, but also because the agency approved by the city that manages the lots, the Bronx Parking Development Corp., does such a lousy job at maintenance. “First class” quickly fell to second, third and now much worse for part of the region, Yankees officials tell me.
Today, some spaces are cluttered with waste and have attracted vermin. They are used to parking taxis, which was not an intended use, and team leaders believe they may also be used as a cutting shop. Parking revenues are almost nonexistent and over $ 200 million in municipal bonds that funded the construction of the lots are in default.
Yankees President Randy Levine, former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, thought he had the solution.
The Yankees co-own a professional football team, New York City FC, which needed its own stadium. Levine needed community buy-in to approve the plan to build the football stadium on a field adjacent to the baseball stadium, which was occupied by these shabby garages.
He put together a package that seemed to satisfy everyone. In return for the approval of the football stadium, he agreed to build a new school, affordable housing and other facilities on land occupied by some of the garages. He did it with private money. Thousands of jobs in the South Bronx would be created.
Bondholders, an important constituency since they technically control faulty parking lots, get a $ 50 million lifeline. The city, another important constituency because it owes back taxes on overdue lots, is also reportedly starting to recoup some of its losses.
The only problem was with the parking that I mentioned before. The Yankees wanted a true first-class parking guarantee of around 5,000 parking spaces (down from its original deal of over 9,000) on the remaining lots.
Sounds like a reasonable request, right? The city and bond holders actually agreed to the spaces in a conditions sheet signed by both parties last year.
But as the project neared final community council approval in recent weeks, something strange happened: The city got cold feet about guaranteeing these boring first-class parking spaces.
Bondholders, led by investment firm Nuveen, who thought it was somehow odd that the Yankees were hatching a tiered plan paying them $ 50 million and asking for something in return.
About two weeks ago, the city told Levine that, despite previous assurances, there would be no guaranteed parking space, knocking a billion-dollar project down the crapper.
This is just one of many development projects that have been derailed by a Blasio administration that is either inept or anti-business. Since Amazon’s rejected headquarters in Queens, how many opportunities have we missed to revitalize New York?
City officials say it was Levine who blew up the case by asking for a ‘legal’ guarantee for the parking lot they couldn’t agree on because they could one day be sued if they didn’t comply. their end of the bargain. They say the deal is not totally dead and could be revived by some sort of compromise. Levine says he’s “puzzled” by the city’s response since the bonds to build these lots were issued to ensure Yankees fans parked in the first place.
Hopefully something works out, because consider what the city has come out of: a billion dollar project and thousands of jobs in one of its poorest neighborhoods, all in a few parking spots. ” guarantees ”.