By Cindy Rodriguez
April 12, 2011
A public hearing on the purchase of city land in Brooklyn by a major real estate developer Wednesday drew dozens of opponents who feared that Wal-Mart will move into the East New York property.
Related Companies, plans to pay $35 million for land roughly the size of 10 football fields in order to expand its Gateway Shopping Center near the Belt Parkway.
The existing shopping center has a Target, BJ's and other big-box stores, and when asked about Wal-Mart, Related said they have "not signed any leases with any tenants."
The developer hasn't said which retailers would be included in the expansion.
"Related simply needs to agree to not bring Wal-Mart into Brooklyn", said Maritza Silva-Farrell, an organizer from New York Jobs with Justice.
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce was one of the few groups testifying in favor of the land deal.
"The project is expected to create approximately 4,000 construction jobs," said Lori Raphael, Director of Real Estate and Development.
Steve McInnis from the Carpenters Union said he planned to testify in favor of the project but arrived too late. He said Wal-Mart has agreed in writing that any new store in New York would be built with all union labor, which the retailer confirmed.
It's up to the mayor to approve the land transfer. When asked about Wal-mart in the past, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the city shouldn't interfere with commerce.
The city's housing department said selling the land will subsidize more than 2,200 affordable apartments nearby.
In a written statement, Wal-Mart said it supports any effort the city makes to create jobs and spur development.
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