Mike Bloomberg only has two weeks left in his tenure as New York City Mayor, but he is trying to make them count.
According to a New York Times report, Bloomberg has approved real estate projects priced at more than $12 billion total in this final stretch–projects of which it seems incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio seems wary.
The projects, the paper notes, have been in at least the talking stage for months–they are not brand new ideas in the last month of the Bloomberg administration–but Bloomberg and his team have intensified efforts to get the projects moving. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel described them as “legacy projects” and noted they hope to have the projects in such development as to be completed within a reasonable time during the de Blasio administration. The Times heavily implies that Bloomberg is pushing these projects to cement his place in the history of the city, having re-zoned about 40% of the city in his twelve years in office.
The projects cover everything from residential buildings to sports stadiums to shopping malls, from Staten Island to the Bronx, with some but not all using taxpayers’ dollars.
The Times notes that de Blasio has generally favored developments in affordable housing and other such projects, but expressed “serious concerns” about a soccer stadium near Yankee Stadium in development. He has also been wary of other luxury projects for which the city has both given tax incentives and provided taxpayers’ dollars, the latter estimated by the paper to be “worth tens of millions.”
De Blasio’s campaign relied heavily on emphasizing the city’s income inequality and promises to help the poor that have been gentrified out of some areas of the city, and some of Bloomberg’s projects could directly challenge how serious de Blasio was about these promises. This is especially true of projects for which Bloomberg has provided tax incentives or public funding, for which the city’s residents themselves are funding multi-million-dollar recreational facilities or commercial centers.
Any misgivings on de Blasio’s part aside, the Times notes that the city has a tradition of its mayors honoring their predecessors’ wishes on such projects, even when they opposed them in campaign mode. This occurs when projects are already too developed to postpone or cancel, but that has not necessarily been the case.
De Blasio has his work cut out for him as a populist with socialist tendencies inheriting the largest city in the world from a mayor whose only ideology appears to be nonpartisan elitism and a thirst for the spotlight. He will inherit Bloomberg’s projects and potentially contend with Bloomberg himself as a talking head in the peanut gallery. Despite nearing the end of his tenure, Bloomberg has remained in the media spotlight, advocating for immigration reform and warning against the dangers of styrofoam and soda, potentially making him as continually visible as his architectural developments.