NYCIDA, New York City
In 2004, Downtown Brooklyn was rezoned to spur office development, but because of a loophole in the new zoning regulations, instead saw the development of luxury residential towers. By the City’s own conservative estimate, 386 residents and 100 businesses employing 1,700 workers could be displaced in this primarily working class community of color as a result of the rezoning.
The Gallery Mall in Albee Square was once a vibrant shopping center, housing two national retailers and approximately 50 locally-owned small businesses, and employing over 200 workers.
The property was purchased in 2007 by Albee Square LLC, a conglomerate intending to demolish the mall to build a 1.6 million square-foot luxury tower with condominiums, offices, and retail space. Businesses were evicted with little warning and without relocation assistance. The mall was demolished by the City, leaving a giant hole at the entrance of the third largest dollar volume retail district in New York City, while construction on new development was stalled for years.
In fall 2009, the city’s Capital Resource Corporation, a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Agency, announced it was awarding the developers $20 million in tax-exempt Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in order to jump-start the retail and housing part of the project. The city estimates that it will create 328 construction jobs and 108 full-time equivalent permanent jobs. However, there are no guarantees taxpayer money will create decent, living wage jobs for residents or displaced workers. The permanent jobs will be primarily part-time, low-wage retail jobs, and will actually represent a net loss of jobs in Albee Square.