Mayor Bloomberg called today for the dismantling of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the state’s main agency involved in downtown redevelopment, advocating in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Governor Paterson “hand over its development responsibilities to the city.”
From the op-ed:
The LMDC would also turn over its responsibility for demolishing the Deutsche Bank building to the already existing Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, a city/state entity. This would help the LMCCC prevent the delays that inevitably result from too much bureaucracy, greatly enhancing the prospects for meeting a July 2009 deadline for full demolition of the building. To increase accountability, we will push the LMCCC to establish benchmarks for progress and issue monthly reports. The public has a right to know whether we are meeting our goals.
Mr. Bloomberg also called firmly for the Port Authority to finish the memorial by the 10-year anniversary, and to scale back the Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH hub, though exactly to what degree the mayor wants the project cut is unclear.
The LMDC was formed after September 11, 2001, to disburse federal funds and incentives, and to assist with the redevelopment at ground zero. Unlike the bi-state Port Authority, which is controlled by a semi-independent board and the governors of New York and New Jersey, the LMDC is almost entirely under the control of the governor.
Toward the end of his time in office in 2006, Governor Pataki called for the dissolution of the LMDC, an agency that then-gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer derided as an emblem of government waste called it an “absolute failure.”
But when he came to office, Mr. Spitzer changed course and put his own appointees in the agency, including chairman Avi Schick and president David Emil.
“LMDC will be the vehicle through which Governor Spitzer expresses his vision and articulates his voice in Lower Manhattan,” Mr. Schick said at the time.
Since, the agency has continued to disburse some remaining federal money, assisted in a late 2007 attempt to woo Merrill Lynch to the World Trade Center, and is attempting to put together a complex plan for a bus garage and new residential development by the entrance ramp for the Holland Tunnel.
Still, many officials and others involved in the redevelopment at ground zero describe LMDC’s role there as a murky one, as the agency has no direct authority except over the dismantling of the former Deutsche Bank tower.
The city and LMDC have sparred in the past, in part over the lengthy process of receiving a new abatement plan from the federal EPA for the Deutsche Bank building after a fatal fire there in August 2007.
We’ve put out a few requests for comment, and are awaiting responses. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has gone to bat for Mr. Schick in the past, and with his job as Empire State Development Corporation president soon coming to an end, he could be without a role at all working for the state if the mayor’s plan is realized.