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Pols: Show us the money! City withholding financial details on armory deal, lawmakers say

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Talk about being shortchanged.

The city refuses to give local lawmakers financial information on the redevelopment plan for the publicly owned Bedford-Union Armory, potentially obstructing opportunities to include more affordable housing in the scheme that calls for 50-plus luxury condos, according to a state senator.

“Mr. Mayor, why aren’t you giving us the financials for a project that is our land, our money … supposedly for housing for us?” State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–Crown Heights) said at a public meeting about the project on Aug. 2. “Because if they show it to us, we can have 100-percent affordable. But they don’t want 100-percent affordable.”

The city and private developer BFC Partners are seeking public approval to build dozens of below-market-rate rental units and a community recreation center at the historic military structure on Bedford Avenue between President and Union streets.

But neighbors continue to blast the project’s affordable housing — which prices only 18 of more than 330 rental units at rates within the means of community members — as severely lacking.

And the state senator also doubts that below-market-rate rents could fund the operation of the rec center, noting that area residents would be the first to lose access to the facility if that revenue fails to maintain it.

“So what happens? The rec center loses money,” Hamilton said at the meeting. “So they raise the fees so the people from the community who should have been using it can’t use it.”

The pol first asked the mayor’s office for the deal’s financial details last October, including information on construction costs, the project’s debt structure, and a breakdown of the rec center’s operating costs and expected revenue, a spokesman said.

But the city refused to hand anything over, forcing Hamilton to file a second request under the Freedom of Information Act for “any and all documents pertaining to” the armory redevelopment, according to his rep Ean Fullerton.

The city answered that request on March 7, but it did not supply all relevant information, according to Fullerton, who said reps for the Economic Development Corporation invited the senator to review some financial documents at their office, but did not provide copies that he could review without agency supervision.

Officials eventually gave the pol a one-page financial overview of the nearly $200-million project after he refused to review material in the city’s presence, which he said still withheld certain details.

“In Sen. Hamilton’s opinion, what they provided omitted vital analysis, assumptions, and numbers that would be in a financial statement,” Fullerton said. “Sen. Hamilton believes what [the EDC] submitted did not have the level of detail that [BFC Partners] provided to the EDC.”

The city, however, claims the document offers a full breakdown of the deal and proves that it serves the community and is economically viable, according to an Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman.

“We’ve made full financial information on the project public to the state senator and anyone else seeking it,” said Stephanie Baez. “It is 100-percent clear how the project balances costs of providing a new community rec center, affordable housing, and space for local non-profits — achieving the objectives this community has sought for many years.”

When asked for the financial information by this newspaper, Baez said to submit a Freedom of Information Law request or consult state Sen. Hamilton, whose staff ultimately provided it.

According to the document, the developer will net a profit of just more than $737,000 from condo sales, and an annual cash flow of nearly $800,000 from rentals. A red, zig-zagging arrow indicates a relationship between the cash flow from rental units and the rec center, but it is not immediately apparent how one affects the other.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 1:14 pm, August 16, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Toonie from Staten Island says:
The same thing happened here in SI when the city re-did the historic zone between the mall and the dump. The whole mall-to-dump-zone project was done in complete secrecy, and the result was that only wealthy hipsters now live in this district. And how much did it cost?! I don't know, but I can only assume lots of money as the city only used the finest products available. We, like people of Crown Heights, demanded a cheaply made project, where the majority of money would go to pointless meetings with local complainers. Instead the city chose to make a quality project, and not listen to every random know-nothing whiner who had an opinion. This is basically criminal, and we have a go fund me page where we're raising money to sue the city, the construction company, and the owners of the mall for millions of dollars. If you believe in the armory, find our page and donate to a worthy cause. Together we can beat the mall-to-dump-zone project.
Aug. 15, 2017, 4:31 am
Kurt Calder from PLG says:
The best thing to show that betrayer of the electorate's faith, Jessie Hamilton, is the door. That turncoat does not speak for the people.
Aug. 15, 2017, 3:17 pm
Following BFC's $$$ to Mayor from Crown Hts says:
Contributions from partners of BFC-per NYC Campaign Finance Board:

Joseph A Ferrara/BFC Partner...Mark –Viverito $400...Ferreras-Copeland $250... Vincent Ignizio $250

Elvira (Ferrara’s wife): ...deBlasio $4500...

Brandon Baron/BFC Partner(Listed in West Hampton): Vincent Ignizio $500 Mark-Viverito $650..deBlasio $1000... Ferreras-Copeland $250...

Rachel wife if one of BFC's owners in Armonk to deBlasio $4500...

Gregory Baron BFC 2nd Ave Builders: deBlasio $4500...

Winthrop Wharton/BFC Partner: Mark-Viverito $250

Links to BFC influence...

Capoccia’s history of pay to play:

https://www.habitatmag.com/ Board-Talk/Donald-Capoccia- HPD-Corruption

http://publiccorruption. moreland.ny.gov/
“Capoccia seems to be untouchable since he is one of the largest donors to our Governor and elected officials. LJ what has your building done to advocate? My building has contacted EVERY single elected official. I suggest you do the same...unfortunately, our current public advocate didn't advocate and his office is a big black hole but I suggest you try again and reach out to the Borough Presidents office in your borough. And, ANY PRESS PEOPLE READING THIS....THIS IS A GOOD STORY OF CORRUPTION, BAD HOUSING, NO OVERSIGHT BY HPD AND HOW Donald Capoccia has numerous complaints against him at the Attorney Generals office but since he has donated so much money to our governor he's untouchable.”
Aug. 15, 2017, 3:55 pm
Manubaya from Crown heights says:
Bill blazio is selling his ass for the mighty Dollar it's a shame
Aug. 15, 2017, 4:11 pm
Suria from Crown Heights says:
What does CM Laurie Cumbo have to say? Isn't she the vote City Hall is depending on to deliver for the developer to make it market rate and shut the community out?
Aug. 16, 2017, 7:45 pm

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