Thursday, July 12, 2007

Columbia, ESDC-AKRF'd Up

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance blog recently wrote about the recent judicial ruling that questions the independence of AKRF and the ESDC in working with Columbia University:
In what may become a watershed decision, Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich ruled that the Empire State Development Corporation must hand over confidential documents and correspondence to opponents of the Columbia expansion plan....

Now we have commented previously about the serious weaknesses in the city's land use review process, and in particular the worthiness of the so-called environmental consulting work that is done on behalf of developers. The good folks at the Manhattan Institute, no knee-jerk opponents of development, have cogently alerted us to the unhealthy collaboration between developers, their environmental consultants, and the review agencies that are supposed to do the proper due diligence of the data that is submitted on behalf of development projects....

In some ways ESDC, Columbia and AKRF have done us all a favor and, through their blatant disregard for any semblance of pretense, clearly demonstrated the phony nature of the UURP process in this city. Now the only thing that needs to be done here is for the consultants to be recused; and for the entire ULURP process to be suspended until a clearer understanding of the interrelationships between the parties is fully revealed.
The Columbia Spectator published a related article: Judge Orders Expansion Documents Released: Ruling Questions Objectivity of Consultants Who Work for Both State and Columbia.

Many of these issues are at play in the Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment. In Brooklyn, a city authority, the EDC, wants to destroy a potentially important cultural resource for the area, the Duffield Street homes. And in order to get the research results they want, they hire AKRF.