Developer in the Hot Seat with Controversial Land Deal and Time Warner Center Flash Mob
East New Yorkers Urge Related to Make the Right Choice
New York– At an HPD public hearing this morning regarding the city’s controversial land transfer to mega-developer Related Companies for its Gateway II development in East New York, Brooklyn, dozens of East New Yorkers raised concerns about Walmart eyeing the site as it desperately tries to buoy its stalled U.S. growth by breaking into the New York City market.
According to testimony at the hearing, the appraisal – a key component of the land transfer – was incomplete. “The current appraisal does not engage in a fundamental component of any adequate appraisal, which is to account for various building scenarios when calculating the value of the land,” explained Josh Kellerman from Jobs with Justice. “Rather than look at all scenarios allowed under the zoning, it only looked at one scenario suggested by the developer, Related.”
“Instead of playing by the rules and participating in public hearings and our community’s zoning process, Walmart is trying to buy its way in with an expensive PR campaign,” said Val Holder, an East New York resident and community leader. “And now Related Companies appears to be taking a page from the company’s playbook, by refusing to answer on the record whether it’s in talks with Walmart, and if so, for which locations.”
In seeking zoning approval for the site, Related Companies skirted questions about Walmart, and now the developer is drawing mounting pressure for its flirtation with the unwelcome retailer. Today’s public hearing showdown comes on the heels of a flash mob at the developer’s headquarters on Friday afternoon, and a February request by elected officials that the developer not do business with Walmart.
“Why would Related Companies partner with a retailer like Walmart, with a track record of not living up to its claims? On minority hiring, wages, job creation, even LGBT issues—the slick rhetoric Walmart uses to win its way into cities doesn’t live up to the hype,” said Maria Maisonet, a New York Communities for Change member and community leader in East New York.
At the hearing, community leaders argued that instead of playing by the rules- participating in public hearings, and answering tough questions– Walmart launched a massive political and public relations campaign, promising to create new jobs with competitive pay. The retailer made the same promises to win approval in other cities—promises which have since been broken.
East New Yorkers urged Related Companies to put the needs of the community first, and instead choose retailers like Shoprite, who has publicly expressed interest in the site, and is more in-line with New York’s values.