City selects de Blasio donors to build pair of towers on NYCHA property in Boerum Hill

January 26, 2018

Rendering of 120 3rd Avenue via Aufgang Architects

The city announced on Thursday their selection of two developers, Arker Companies and Two Trees Management, to build two 16-story apartment towers on parking lots at Wyckoff Gardens, a New York City Housing Authority property in Brooklyn. However, according to the Daily News, the owners of both companies have raised a total of $124,600 for Mayor Bill de Blasio, bringing into question the influence of donations on the city’s choice of the two developers.

The 500-unit complex will contain half affordable apartments, with the other half listed as market-rate. It will replace the parking lots at Wyckoff Gardens, a housing complex bounded by Nevins Street, Third Avenue, Wyckoff Street and Baltic Street. The new housing development will fall under the mayor’s NextGen program, which focuses on raising money by leasing out empty space, like parking lots and grassy areas, to developers in order to fund repairs at antiquated NYCHA buildings.

Records reveal the Arker Companies owner Sol Arker donated $24,600 to de Blasio’s 2017 re-election bid in October of 2015. The CEO of Two Trees, Jed Walentas, wrote a check for $100,000 in April of the same year for the mayor’s now-shuttered non-profit Campaign for One New York.

A spokesperson for the project told 6sqft, “We are eager to bring in much needed affordable housing to Brooklyn and to provide NYCHA with the necessary funds to make critical repairs to Wyckoff Gardens and its other developments. In addition to working closely with NYCHA and the local community, we’re committed to providing affordable retail and open space for the surrounding neighborhood.”

Notably, the city’s only other similar project, the Upper East Side’s Holmes Towers, was also awarded to a de Blasio donor. The city selected Fetner Properties to build a 47-story building on the playground of the NYCHA complex, located along East 93rd Street. The company’s CEO, Harold Fetner, and his family have given nearly $40,000 to de Blasio’s campaigns.

Two other donors to de Blasio have faced legal battles after admitting they gave money to gain City Hall access. Harendra Singh pleaded guilty this week to attempting to bribe the mayor by using contributions to win a favorable lease agreement for his restaurant. Another developer, Jona Rechnitz, told a top aide to de Blasio that he donated to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign to gain access to the mayor. The Manhattan U.S. Attorney, who was investigating the allegations for over a year, dismissed the charges last March.

[Via NY Daily News]


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