Thompson on Mega-Development: Look to Battery Park City
City Comptroller Bill Thompson has a model for building mega-projects, and—surprise!—it’s not the same strategy as Mayor Bloomberg’s.
Speaking at a Crain’s New York breakfast Thursday morning at the Hyatt on 42nd Street, the Democratic nominee for mayor offered a blast from the past as his standard-bearer for how the city should get giant real estate projects built: Battery Park City.
Unlike many of the Bloomberg administration’s signature development initiatives—Willets Point, Coney Island, the West Side rail yards, Atlantic Yards—the 40-year-old project, started in the Lindsay and Rockefeller administrations, was developed parcel-by-parcel, with developers gradually building up the site to the point where it’s just getting fully built out today.
“The tale of the Bloomberg administration has been failed mega-development projects: Hudson Yards, Atlantic Yards, Willets Point and on and on and on,” the comptroller said.
“Rather than giving it to one developer and saying, ‘Here, you run with it,’” he said, “what we’re seeing now is people treading water, sitting there hoping the economy turns around.”
“We should have done more staged development,” Mr. Thompson said. “If you look at models that have worked in good and bad economies, look at Battery Park City. It’s been better-planned growth; you’ve seen building and construction moving forward and developing in good and bad times.”