Monday, 23 May 2016

Brooklyn Heights Library Redevelopment Plan Probed By Feds

The chosen developer didn't have the highest bid or provide the most affordable housing

The plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Public Library's Brooklyn Heights branch into a 36-story condo with a new library facility in its base is the latest city dealing to attract the attention of the feds and US Attorney Preet Bharara. The Post has learned that the deal is being probed after a firm that neither presented the highest bid nor offered to build the largest amount of affordable housing was chosen to redevelop the site.

Sources of the Post say that Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance have sent subpoenas to the 14 developers who submitted proposals for the condo tower. Included in the pack of developers passed over for the project are Toll Brothers, who offered $1 million more than the developer eventually chosen, and Second Development Services, who offered $6 million more than the chosen bid and whose plan included three additional units of affordable housing.

The chosen bid from Hudson Companies initially sought to build a 30-story skyscraper along Cadman Plaza West with 114 units of off-site affordable housing. Hudson submitted a $52 million bid. The redevelopment project is poised to begin later this year.

A source of the Post's described the bidding process as rigged to favor de Blasio's friends. The paper describes the principle of Hudson Companies as a "friend of the mayor for more than a decade" who has financially contributed to the mayor's political campaigns since 2007. (De Blasio's refunded majority of the donated funds.) The Post says Hudson Companies and the library redevelopment architect, Marvel Architects, has hosted fund raisers for the mayor. Toll Brothers has also made major contributions to nonprofits that advance the mayor's agenda.

The probe comes alongside multiple investigations into the city's lifting of deed restrictions on two lots that came to favor particular developers.


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