Can Mayor Sweeten the Pot at Domino?
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 05, 2014 | 1137 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio is sticking to his guns regarding the creation of affordable housing, but the opportunity to redevelop the Williamsburg waterfront could be in jeopardy if he pushes too hard.

The issue is not complicated. Two Trees Management is willing to build affordable housing units along with market-rate apartments in its development at the old Domino Sugar factory, but de Blasio wants more two- and three-bedroom units and less studio apartments, which would mean less space for the market-rate units.

Two Trees bought this property two years ago with the understanding that 30 percent of the units would be set aside for affordable housing, more than the 20 percent the original developer agreed to in the initial plan in 2010 before Two Trees took over the project.

De Blasio may be taking a hard line here just to set a tone for the next four years. The problem, however, is this can slow down or spoil a deal like this. The Domino Sugar refinery is a historic part of the city. The sooner it gets a makeover, the better.

Perhaps there is a solution for de Blasio and Two Trees developer Jed Walentas. Would Two Trees be willing to build bigger affordable units in another location?

The city may be able to use eminent domain in another area of the city where Two Trees can meet the mayor's demands. That would give the administration the bigger affordable units and it would not interfere with Walentas’ plan to revitalize the waterfront.

How City Hall negotiates with Two Trees may set a watermark for how it deals with other developers. They want to know how the government is going to work with them. It’s all new to them right now.

Staten Island’s Playbook

The city’s Republican Party can take a page out of Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’ playbook.

In a city where one party dominates in politics, the agenda comes from one place and the opposition simply reacts. Malliotakis is a state representative, but she is stitched into almost every local issue as well.

If the GOP is going to compete in this city it is going to have to be proactive. They are going to have to manage social networking where they do not look like elders in the movie Footloose. They need to get out ahead of the other guys.

Malliotakis does have the advantage of being from an ideologically safe district, but nonetheless, she works. More important than ideology is the notion that someone works hard. This is why Charles Schumer was so affective in the House of Representatives (which would actually be a good next step for the Assemblywoman).

This is how one survives in urban politics. This is what the GOP has to do. Reacting to Governor Andrew Cuomo or de Blasio will not cut it. The party needs to be visible.

In the end, the city needs a two-party system. The Greeks gave us democracy centuries ago, and in a small way, maybe one of them is doing it again.

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