What’s up, Dock? Lobbying fees, that’s what

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

DUMBO’s principal real-estate development company has spent more than $400,000 on lobbying over the past two years — a time period that corresponds to the company’s effort to persuade city officials to back a controversial plan for an 18-story residential building and public middle school.

Two Trees Management, which is run by the father-and-son team of David and Jed Walentas, spent $400,385 to lobby the city in 2007 and 2008 — more than five times what the company spent in the five years between 2002 and 2006, inclusive.

But Jed Walentas said that only “30 to 40 percent” of the ramped-up lobbying bills were spent on outreach to city officials overseeing the Dock Street project.

The “vast majority of the rest,” Walentas said, was spent on reaching out to elected and appointed officials involved with the company’s $700-million apartment tower on the West Side of Manhattan.

“Yes, we are lobbying,” Walentas said. “But we have about $1 billion in projects going through the public approval process right now. And these fees represent a broad range of outreach, including attorneys fees, setting up Web sites, and preparing for and hosting community meetings.”

Two Trees’ Dock Street project, a revision of a rejected 2004 design that now includes a public middle school and a layout that intrudes less on the historic Brooklyn Bridge, entered the review process last year. During that year, the company spent $225,484 to lobby the School Construction Authority, the mayor’s office, the Department of City Planning, Borough President Markowitz and the City Council.

In 2007, the company had spent $174,901. The most the company had ever spent before was $43,523.75 in 2005.

So what did Two Trees get for its money? City records do not break down the expense lines by project, so it’s not easy to say what all the lobbying accomplished. But a cursory review of the records reveals that such “outreach” may have some benefits.

Even as late as June, 2008, for example, city officials were saying that they did not see a need for a middle school in DUMBO, despite demand by Brooklyn Heights-area parents for just such a school. Then, about five months later, the city had quietly slipped just such a school into its five-year construction plans.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

ned from dumbo says:
The volume of dollars thrown at this project is directly proportionate to how unpopular it is. Why would you have to lobby,a.k.a payoff, so strenuously for something that people "wanted" You wouldn't. Two Trees knows that the public at large is not in favor of this monstrosity so they have spent a lot of time, money and effort to spin the public perception in an attempt to buy the projects success.
Jan. 27, 2009, 1:05 pm
anona says:
how much did marty and his charities get?
Jan. 27, 2009, 6:19 pm
Publius from Bklyn Hgts says:
We'll find out after we see how Marty votes.
Jan. 27, 2009, 11:55 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.