Small Businesses, Community Leaders, Clergy Tell Related In Person To Say “No” To Walmart
Coalition Also Kicks Off Virtual Campaign Urging New Yorkers to Email Related’s Stephen Ross To Keep East New York Walmart-Free
NEW YORK– Small businesses, community leaders, clergy and other members of Walmart Free NYC paid a visit to the developer Related’s Headquarters at the Time Warner Center today urging them to say “No” to Walmart. The coalition sought a meeting with CEO Stephen Ross about Related’s reported negotiations with Walmart, but Related continued its refusal to meet. The coalition released a letter asking Related to cease any negotiations with Walmart and to meet with East New York residents to discuss potential retail sights.
The coalition also released a video of East New York residents asking Stephen Ross not to be “Related to Walmart” and urging viewers to email Stephen Ross asking him to keep East New York Walmart-Free (http://bit.ly/eastnewyorkersagainstwalmart). At the same time, dozens of Walmart-Free NYC used Twitter to organize emails as well.
“Related needs to understand that Walmart is not what we need in Brooklyn or anywhere else in the five boroughs,” said Wanda Salaman from Mothers on the Move in the Bronx. “Our livelihoods should not be negotiated with behind closed doors, we have the right to know what Related and Walmart are doing.”
“Stephen Ross needs to hear us loud and clear: East New York does not want Walmart,” said said Maria Maisonet of East New York. “Related needs to finally come clean about Walmart and tell us face-to-face what they are doing- we deserve answers.
The delegation from all over New York City included representatives from Willets Point, Hunters Point South and other sites across the city for which Related may potentially submit plans.
Walmart Free NYC also released its letter to Stephen Ross. The letter stated: “We are deeply concerned that you are abdicating your responsibility by reportedly helping Walmart enter New York City via the Gateway II development site and other sites where you may be planning to lease space to the retailer.”
Also in the letter Walmart Free NYC asked Related to:
- Pledge to cease any negotiations with Walmart over sites in New York City, and disclose a list of all the sites where you have been negotiating possible lease arrangements with Walmart.
- Meet with East New York residents in a public forum to share your plans for potential retailers at Gateway II and engage in a dialogue with the community about the future of Gateway II.
- Schedule a series of public meetings to hear from New Yorkers across the city who are concerned about Walmart. This set of meetings will include residents in the neighborhoods surrounding your current developments at Hunters Point South, Westside Yards, and Bronx Gateway; your proposed developments at Willets Point and Moynihan Station; and other potential developments.
Last week, Assemblywoman Inez Barron and UFCW Regional Director and Vice President Rich Whalen urged Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to conduct an independent audit of the proposed transfer of land and negotiated sale price of Gateway II Estates after details emerged that Related Companies purchased the land for less than one-half the originally agreed upon amount. Walmart is widely reported to be eying a store at the East New York, Brooklyn development.
According to the letter to the Comptroller released last week:
- Related agreed to pay $32.5 million in March 2009, after the financial collapse, for 21 acres of land in East New York, Brooklyn for its Gateway Center development project.
- In April, 2009, only one month after Related agreed to the $32.5 million price, the land was rezoned to allow for a new 630,000 SF retail mall in addition to the mall that had already been built in 2001. This rezoning decreased the amount of land available for affordable housing, while increasing the overall value of the land for Related because land that can be used for commercial development is presumably more valuable than land to be used for residential development.
- In 2010, at the request of Related, the deal was modified to reduce the per acre cost by 35%.