NYCEDC UNVEILED by Emily Sharpe
Residents and small business in western Queens are being descended upon by New York City’s Economic Development Corporation or EDC, a supposed public entity that acts like a for-profit growth-based corporation putting its thumb on the scale to determine which industries, projects and neighborhoods will stand, and which will fall. The EDC is coming for the stated purpose of gathering community input to be incorporated into the Master Plan for the Sunnyside Yards mega-development, close to 7 times larger than Hudson Yards. They are coming to develop Sunnyside Yards because cash-strapped Amtrak needs money to expand operations and Mayor Bill de Blasio and the EDC agree that tax-payer dollars, estimated at $160 billion (based on Hudson Yards), will be well-spent on replacing long-time denizens, increasing rents and making quality of life for the next 50 years a living nightmare, as long as they can reap benefits for themselves.
Although shrouded in mystery, the EDC contains little more than Goldman Sachs alumni, out to maximize profits for their cronies investing in NYC. Former deputy mayor Alicia Glen and James Patchett, president and CEO of the EDC and former chief of staff to Glen, have set the wheels in motion for Sunnyside Yards and they do not play fair.
The chosen helmsman to steer this behemoth to completion is Vishaan Chakrabarti who believes Central Park should never have been built, thinks Governors Island should be connected to Manhattan by landfill, and has had his hand in questionable city projects too numerous to count. It is unclear to the layperson why EDC chose Chakrabarti, or who the other contenders were, but perhaps it is his vision of hyper-density, which necessarily means seemingly endless opportunities for the real estate industry and for EDC to maximize their investments, that won him the job.
Whatever the reasons, Chakrabarti is well-versed in EDC tactics. Tactics such as obfuscating answers to earnest questions about cost and affordable housing and deck height from residents at a public community meeting on March 26, 2019. Tactics like exclusively partnering with LaGuardia Community College for a new program, Cyber NYC, when the president, Gail Mellow, is on the steering committee; asking reliably out-spoken opponents of the project to be on the steering committee, presumably to be silenced or influenced; inexplicably delaying large public meetings, while continuing to make its presence known in less conspicuous ways, such as staffing booths at NYCHA housing events, Queens Pridefest, Sunnyside and LIC Shines, where tickets range from $40-$400, thereby excluding most members of the community and preventing their voices from being heard.
For their prowess, Investigative Reporters and Editors ("IRE") named the EDC a finalist for their 2019 Golden Padlock Award in celebration of the "most secretive government agency or individual in the United States," for "controlling millions in public money while trying to avoid public oversight" by signing non-disclosure agreements with Amazon and "a lack of transparency in the bidding and selection process for the city's ferry program." Yes, it is clear that the EDC does not play fair.