The Bronx Terminal Market illustrates the Bloomberg administration's tendency to promote development of underutilized land while allowing small businesses to be bulldozed in the process, according to a report published yesterday.
"Beyond the Olympics," the result of a five-month examination by the nonprofit think tank Center for an Urban Future, found that Mayor Bloomberg has habitually sought the rezoning and redevelopment of property, resulting in the eviction of local businesses.
"The Bronx Terminal Market is emblematic of the problems with the Bloomberg administration - they do the right thing but go at it an awfully wrong way," the research director of the center and author of the report, Jonathan Bowles, told The New York Sun.
At the Bronx market, 23 merchants are being evicted to make way for a $394 million Gateway Center that will include a waterfront park and an esplanade along the Harlem River.
"With better planning and community input, the city could have done a much better job with business retention at the Bronx Terminal Market," the director emeritus of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, Ronald Shiffman, said.
While the city was successful in wresting control of the Bronx market when it had been allowed to fall into disrepair, "the administration apparently didn't even consider renovating the produce market or keeping the more than 20 merchants that had managed to persevere at the facility," Mr. Bowles wrote in the report.
"Instead," he continued, "without public bidding and with no meaningful input from the merchants and the community, it turned over the property to a developer with close ties to Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff." That developer is the executive director of the Related Companies, Stephen Ross, who has been a friend of Mr. Doctoroff for several years and was a business partner of Mr. Doctoroff when each owned a piece of the New York Islanders hockey team.
Mr. Shiffman, a former city planning commissioner, said Mr. Ross and Mr. Doctoroff use "a top-down approach instead of a participatory approach to development."
"It boils down to the hubris of people who believe what they are doing is right and so ignore some of the details," he said.
The redevelopment and rezoning plans the city is implementing in various neighborhoods, including Hunts Point in the Bronx, the far West Side of Manhattan, and Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, will put 14,000 blue-collar jobs at risk, according to the executive director of the New York Industrial Retention Network, Adam Friedman. The Greenpoint and Williamsburg rezoning alone has put 4,000 jobs and 250 businesses at risk, he said.
"The rezoning increases the price of the land so the local businesses, which usually pay rent, can no longer afford to stay," Mr. Friedman said.
The city said yesterday that its rezoning and development are leading to an economic revival.
"By making New York City more business-friendly, diversifying our economy, and replacing outdated zoning laws that stunted development, we are making unprecedented investments throughout the city," a spokeswoman for the mayor, Jennifer Falk, said in a statement.
She added: "Just because some projects generate more headlines than others does not mean we aren't focusing on every possible way to create more economic opportunity for New Yorkers."