According to Dan Beekman’s coverage of our super short press conference (on 11/6/12) in the NY Daily News. HPD has back pedaled, and taken Stanley Schlein off the project:
“But housing officials recently required Bronx lawyer Stanley Schlein to remove himself from the project, the Crossroads Plaza development at Southern Blvd. and E. 149th St., and it is moving forward.”
HPD suddenly realized, after our pressure and coverage in the NY Times that dealing with Schlein as the principal minority partner in a land deal for hundreds of millions of dollars was a bad idea. It only took 17 years.
Eric Biederman, HPD spokesperson, further excused the agency by stating that:
“The agency entered into negotiations with the Schlein team before he was censured, it said. The site has remained vacant for years because it was initially slated for offices and stores, HPD said.”
What that doesn’t acknowledge is that the city entered into contractual negotiations with Schlein, Perez, and Rios in 1995. At the time Schlein was a city employee on with a cushy position on the Civil Service Comission.
In 2000, the Crossroads Plaza group successfully completed a ULURP process to build a retail complex, but then axed the deal without explanation. The likely explanation being in 2001, Schlein’s personal friend Mayor Michael R . Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York City.
In all likelihood, the mayor, who intended to ensure that the real estate industry in New York keep reeling in profits, let Schlein know that a housing complex with some affordable housing thrown in, would likely be a more sound investment. Add onto that the fact that HPD’s new direction under Bloomberg would further this cause.
What HPD also admits with this statement is that, although Schlein was censured after their contractual negotiations began, it never stopped them from pursuing the relationship. Remember, Schlein was censured in 2006. Different HPD commissioners during that time (according to Michael Powell of the NY Times) wrote personal letters requesting to continue business with Schlein and his partners almost every year from that point on.
SO WHAT’S ALL THIS MEAN?
1. The resistance of Morning Glory Gardeners to the bureaucratic wheels of HPD and the roadblock thrown up by them helped us defeat a feared and respected lobbyist for the real estate industry. We BEAT Stanley Schlein and prevented him from lining his pockets with our money in the name of “affordable housing.” Good healthy organizing and protest can score a victory, even if it looks bleak.
2. Good honest journalism always wins out. Diligent journalists, particularly at the Mot Haven Herald, wouldn’t just regurgitate the city’s political line. They investigated and looked under every rock they could find.
3. HPD has set a new precedent: Even if you’re inexperienced, have no background in housing development, you’re a city employee and you’ve committed criminal actions, you’re still the right person for the job. As long as your tied personally to the mayor and everyone else involved in the approval process.