Saturday, February 04, 2006


City official Andrew Alper: "not up to us to find a better deal"

It's old news, but the question still gets asked: did the city ask any other developers if they were interested in bringing basketball to Brooklyn? The answer: no.

And, perhaps more importantly, did the city ask any other developers if they were interested in some valuable land near Brooklyn's busiest transit hub? Again: no.

Andrew Alper, then president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, testified at the 5/4/04 City Council hearing. According to the transcript:

COUNCIL MEMBER ERIC GIOIA: And then the final part, and this is my last question, is, if we are trying to maximize public investment for public benefit, are we, for this issue, are we proactively then going out and saying to other similar developers, similar type entities. In other words, have you been doing a road show looking for other NBA teams or other athletic teams, or other developers to build stadiums? Or are we sitting back and we are in this position because this developer initials athletics come to us and said, I own this property, I want to build this project and I think it is good for the City? In other words, how proactive is the City's Economic Development Plan, are we doing this now because this has been brought to us, or are we doing this because we proactively looked and said, we think this is good for Downtown Brooklyn, and we think this is good for New York City?

And depending on your answer, the second part of it is, how do you know it is a good deal, unless we know that there is somebody else out there? In other words, if they are negotiating and it is not, what else is the market out there, and are we negotiating against ourselves?

ANDREW ALPER: Well the answer is yes and no. We are actively out marketing the City all over the US, all over Europe, all over Asia to talk to companies and prospective, tenants for buildings and prospective projects. We have been doing that very aggressively, and I think with some early success to bring more jobs to New York. This particular project came to us. We were not out soliciting, we were developing a Downtown Brooklyn Plan, but we were not out soliciting a professional sports franchise for Downtown Brooklyn.

The developer came to us with what we thought was actually a very clever plan. It is not only bringing a sports team back to Brooklyn, but to do it in a way that provided dramatic economic development catalyst in terms of housing, retail, commercial jobs, construction jobs, permanent jobs.

So, they came to us, we did not come to them. And it is not really up to us then to go out and try to find a better deal. I think that would discourage developers from coming to us, if every time they came to us we went out and tried to shop their idea to somebody else. So we are actively shopping, but not for another sports arena franchise for Brooklyn.

[Note: This is a 6/9/07 replacement of an article that had inadvertently vanished from the blog.]

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