Friday, January 18, 2008

Pfizer Offering Williamsburg Plant Site for Affordable Housing—So, Why’s a State Assemblyman Trying to Seize It?

From: MDDWhite
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 10:43:55 EST
Subject: Pfizer Why's a State Assembly man Trying to Seize It?


There are two new local stories I think you may want to put up on your blog relating to ED abuse.

Commercial Breaks

Pfizer Offering Williamsburg Plant Site for Affordable Housing—So, Why’s a State Assemblyman Trying to Seize It?
by Eliot Brown January 15, 2008

This article was published in the January 21, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

Property Shark .............................................. Pfizer plant.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is opting to leave the Brooklyn community that gave it its start 159 years ago with something of a mixed-income goodbye kiss, as its seeks to turn its giant 15-acre southeast Williamsburg site into a new development marked by affordable housing.

The firm is putting out a request for proposals for developers to create a mixed-use, mixed-income complex on the site of its old manufacturing plant, which is slated to close by the end of the year in the name of cost-cutting and consolidation. In a statement, the company said, in gathering input from the community, affordable housing topped the list of desires.

“The message we heard loudly and clearly, from a wide range of diverse voices, was that affordable housing and jobs are pressing needs in the neighborhood,” the statement said. “We fully agree.”

Pfizer has retained the investment sales team at Cushman & Wakefield to handle the R.F.P. for the site, near the border of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant.

Any developer would likely have to change the zoning on the properties, most of which currently restricts uses to manufacturing. The current density allows for about two million square feet of development, according to figures from the real estate tracking firm PropertyShark.

All of Pfizer’s plans, however, could be for naught if State Assemblyman Vito Lopez is successful in a bid to claim the site with eminent domain and develop it for affordable housing. First reported in Crain’s New York Business, Mr. Lopez, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been drafting a bill that would have the state’s housing agency acquire the site, then issue its own request for proposals so as to create about 1,700 housing units.

Mr. Lopez, the chairman of the Assembly’s housing committee, has pushed for large levels of affordable housing, often irking city officials and other legislators who consider his demands unreasonable and unrealistic. His efforts, however, received a shout-out from Governor Spitzer in his State of the State address last week, in which he praised Mr. Lopez for his commitment to affordable housing.

Pfizer, in a candid statement, said the company finds it “extremely puzzling that a legislator would propose a government seizure of private property through eminent domain to ostensibly re-develop the properties with the same types of uses we are already considering.”


Anonymous (not verified) says:
I think you've nary a chance to end up as a lazy and "horrible" reporter, Eliot. Three cheers.January 17, 2008 9:27 AM

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Elliot, you shouldn't be commenting on yourself.January 17, 2008 12:28 PM

Anonymous (not verified) says:
This is a a basic Schtick from David Niederman and Vito to have full pockets like they dont on Scheafer On Kent Where David Niederman Got $900,000 Sponsor Fee.He got there the property for free, the cleaning for free, and after all of those the community got fancy high end up condos.What affordable ? Have he done in his entire career ?
They Both want a piece of real estate as theirs, and benefit their freinds and pockets.January 17, 2008 4:04 PM

MDDW (not verified) says:
Interesting that Pfizer, so central to the famous US Supreme Court’s Kelo case which has opened the floodgates to this kind of eminent domain abuse (though carefully read it may not actually permit it) now finds itself with the shoe on the other foot.

In the Kelo case, Pfizer was one of the main beneficiaries of the private-owner-to-private owner condemnation, though, unlike situations like Atlantic Yards and Columbia University, in Kelo, Pfizer was not the ONLY beneficiary of the condemnation and the beneficiaries of the condemnation were not known in BEFORE the plan of condemnation was adopted.
This is a truly remarkable example of live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword.

Now the question is whether there is anything to the rumors being thrown around that Pfizer would somehow be involved in renting the land Columbia University is trying to grab through eminent domain abuse.

It is unfortunate that Pfizer is leaving its birthplace and perhaps giving up a birthright of sorts, more unfortunate that history won’t be marked by a site Pfizer develops for housing.

Yes, it is a grab for power by Mr. Lopez but it is also an unprincipled bid to buy a power-friend on Mr. Spitzer’s part. Spitzer is on this eminent domain bandwagon big time, acting like its abuse is the most marvelous thing since sliced toast.

So, re-read the last paragraph of the article (below) and then, just for fun, I followed it with a few quotes from Kelo:

ARTICLE’S LAST PARAGRAPH: “Pfizer, in a candid statement, said the company finds it extremely puzzling that a legislator would propose a government seizure of private property through eminent domain to ostensibly re-develop the properties with the same types of uses we are already considering.

JUSTICE KENNEDY in KELO:“The trial court concluded, based on these findings, that benefiting Pfizer was not "the primary motivation or effect of this development plan"; instead, "the primary motivation for [respondents] was to take advantage of Pfizer's presence." Id., at 276. Likewise, the trial court concluded that "[t]here is nothing in the record to indicate that ... [respondents] were motivated by a desire to aid [other] particular private entities." Id., at 278.

See also ante, at 7-8. Even the dissenting justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed that respondents' development plan was intended to revitalize the local economy, not to serve the interests of Pfizer, Corcoran Jennison, or any other private party. 268 Conn. 1, 159, 843 A. 2d 500, 595 (2004) (Zarella, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). This case, then, survives the meaningful rational basis review that in my view is required under the Public Use Clause.”

JUSTICE O’CONNER in KELO (Dissenting):“To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property--and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent.”
“The trouble with economic development takings is that private benefit and incidental public benefit are, by definition, merged and mutually reinforcing. In this case, for example, any boon for Pfizer or the plan's developer is difficult to disaggregate from the promised public gains in taxes and jobs. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 275-277.”
Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.”

JUSTICE THOMAS in KELO (Dissenting):“This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a "public use."January 17, 2008 6:58 PM

Shoshana (not verified) says:
Here we go again corrupt so called community leaders like the Kestenbaums from the ODA and Neiderrman from UJO with Vito lopez are trying to dip into Pfizer pockets..I hope Pfizer will not scumb to these thiefsThe Schafer landing development On Kent Where David Niederman was so called fighting for affordable housing for the community . This is what the community got and folks you could verify it: Neiderman Got $900,000 Sponsor Fee.The communty was to get 40 affordable unit that would be distributed by a drawing but somehow 15 units went to Rabbi neidermans and Kestenbaums from the ODA"s children and realtives
They Both are muti milloners and they only benefit their freinds and pocketsJanuary 18, 2008 7:32 AM

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