Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WG News Reels in medium-sized Domino story

The WG News Arts throws an article about MOUs into the Domino discussions three days before the City Council's final vote on this. Phil DePaolo is hot on this issue too, and Rich Calder has a succinct article in the New York Post about this too.

Here's the WG paragraph that decently summarizes its story:

All of the countless meetings, presentations over a period of five to six years appear to be meaningless given the documents that have been made public to date—and the use of a MOU to make the promises. In fact, in the MOU it mentions that the developer can simply choose to only create the standard 20% affordable units if they choose to not take the public subsidies, far below what was promised, and it would be within the allowance of the agreement. Also, there is no mention of the 100 permanently affordable homeownership units very often mentioned as a basic part of the plan given forth by CPCR. Whether this has been written into the zoning text is unknown, but unlikely.

What's all the fuss about? Domino opponents say that Domino is set to be approved without legal guarantees of 30 percent affordable housing. The affordable housing component of Domino (660 units) is written into the "memorandum of understanding" and not into a legal contract, meaning, if the city does not deliver its public subsidies for housing, Domino's developers may not build those buildings. That's unlikely, say the developers and city officials.

"They made a promise and they're going to keep it, as they've done for 35 years," a spokesman for CPC Resources told me. They've never backed down on anything."

Councilman Levin's office isn't commenting on this for now. That may change Thursday. As could some additional legal stipulations, and the plan must also go back to the City Planning Commission.

A few questions are flapping around:

1. Why wasn't a legal document, such as a "restrictive deed" signed guaranteeing 30 percent affordable housing beyond this MOU? There is a reason here that pertains to land use law more than politics, but I imagine the MOU gives Domino's developers more flexibility for its plan.

2. What part of the city's budget would the public subsidy for Domino come from and has that piece been allocated yet?

3. What kind of oversight will exist to ensure that 30 percent affordable housing is in fact included in the plan beyond the MOU and the developer's word?

4. Will additional legal stipulations be added to the agreement to ensure the public subsidy is in place?

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