What is each of our responsibility to the community?

There always seems to be a disconnect between the landlords be it residential or commercial and the reality of the streets. Eventually there is a come to reality moment but currently there are plenty of empty retail spaces and cities laden with homeless people.

What is each of our responsibility to the community? There are more than a handful of landlords who have upped their rent so high probably because they took out another mortgage on the property to put capital in their pockets with the belief that the current tenant would service their loan.

That can work until the price gets too high. Then a space sits open where a store or a restaurant or a bakery or a tailor sat for years. It is a lose lose for everyone particularly the community.

We are landlords and we believe there is a balance between making money and doing right by the community. You can be a good landlord and make money. Greed is just not good.

This past month the conversation took place on the streets of Long Island City. Amazon walked away from building their next large campus in NYC. It would have ultimately created 25,000 new jobs and billions in tax revenue that would have been a boon to the neighborhood which in turn creates a lot of cash for the city.

In hindsight, there is zero doubt that the politics on both sides was a disaster and the reason for the huge incentives given to Amazon were not well articulated but it points directly to what I am asking and writing about. What is the right balance?

Certainly the city and state needed to give Amazon a very hefty incentive to come to NYC but nobody seemed to be talking about what Amazon could do for the community except create 25,000 jobs. 25,000 jobs is huge but when there L-train is looming a bigger disaster than it already is along with a transportation system that the Governor doesn’t seem to give a shit about and a homeless situation that continues to grow doesn’t make for shake a hand and smile politics. This is what creates stupid populism politics.

I am not going to run for politics but damn DeBlasio and Cuomo who are at the helm now upset me just as much as the illiterate man in the WH.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    There was blame and illiteracy aplenty to go around.DeBlasio and Cuomo hold the blame and the dunce hat as failed leaders in this.An unfortunate outcome.There was a segment on The Argument recently that addressed this really well. I’ll try and locate.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      And also Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is to blame. She just screwed over her people.

      1. awaldstein

        Her economic ignorance at least as reported in the press was notable.The way the deal was struck, rolled out was not her but our mayor. It had few public meetings to my knowledge till the deal was done. I have personal experience organizing the municipality with deals this big in a neighborhood I lived in and that is not how it is done.This is a secret and assured process for failure.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Agreed about public process.AOC helped fuel the populism, however.

          1. awaldstein

            populism isn’t by its nature a problem.the problem is secrecy. the problem is the idiot negotiations by our mayor and governor.the real problem is that there was no public hearings.when i was an early resident rebuilding the rose garden area in san jose the city wanted to build the hockey stadium and the airport wanted to put in a runway. we were a downtown section and both were a threat.i was on the chair committee for the neighborhood.it took over two years of hearings.everyone got something. the process is the answer not the voicing of opposition.that’s democracy and neighborhood in action.that is what was missing. their was no proposal.the deal was closable. and would have been great for ny.

          2. Gotham Gal

            AgreeThey could and should have used CoUrbanize that does this more effectively and efficiently

          3. Susan Rubinsky

            I was on the Amazon team in CT. There was only six weeks from initial RFQ to submission deadline. There was no time to organize public meetings. So basically, all the cities that submitted did so without a public participation process. There just wasn’t enough time.

          4. awaldstein

            I have no insight into this deal.I have never done a real estate deal with Amazon.But it is insanity to think that NYC is some kid asking for allowance. We were as much a plum for them as they were to us.We were not given a set of rules for a multi hundreds of billion dollar deal that would change the face of NY for eternity that we couldn’t modify.I am not looking for excuses, I don’t believe in them.The blame goes where it is but this is firmly on our side as a failure.If we wanted hearings we would have got them.

          5. Susan Rubinsky

            Oh, I *get* it. Transparency is key. A whole lot of moving parts, but ultimately, NY failed in their public outreach.

          6. awaldstein

            sorry that is all i was trying to say.people/neighborhoods/communities need to own the good and bad. having amazon in LIC is a really huge upside.a smart negotiation and public input could have addressed housing and transportation in a way that is simply not possible iteratively.this is a company/a guy who can write a $500m check as a grant, and in return have forced the city to spend a big chunk of its tax revenue on housing.i do deals a lot. teeny on any scale but there were so so many wins for both sides on this.

  2. Erin

    Ok I guess I don’t understand Amazon, why people are so into them. They are using us (well, the middle class consumers) as intermediaries to push down prices to further impoverish wage laborers in third world countries. Not to mention the labor practices in their warehouses stateside are horrendous. I realize the long island jobs were going to be respectable engineering jobs, but as a whole, the company is hegemonizing economic injustice keeping third world countries from ever having a hope of getting out of debt. Am I being naive here? I just don’t understand why smart people like them so much. Yes it’s convenient, but at an incredibly costly price for the third world poor and our own minimum wage workers.

    1. Skopos NYC

      I agree with you — your not being naive at all! As a country on the whole, I believe we are so damn comfortable that we’ve lost our sense of compassion. Back to AMZN: the thing that makes Amazon so sticky is the long tail of products you can find in 2 minutes and the convenience of not having to go anywhere for it — in short, they make buying what you need so damn efficient and easy! My soap pump broke the other day and – boom – I got a new one in 2 minutes. However, I see positive trends towards more social capitalism. Our core friend group (one of them even works for Amazon) has frequent conversations about diversifying our spending more towards smaller businesses in our communities or with up-and-coming or smaller brands online that practice the High Road (sustainability, fair trade, livable wages, etc.) We’re strong believers in community, want to walk the walk more and make that thinking NORMAL again!

      1. Erin

        I was pretty proud of myself- I didn’t buy anything from Amazon this Christmas, but finding replacements can be hard. I wanted to send my American friend a hardcover cookbook for his birthday, for example, but the shipping was going to be as much as the book. It would’ve been free with Amazon, so my friend just gets a card this year. Oh well.I heard this afternoon that Payless shoes is going out of business. All this online shopping is costing even the big box stores! It’s crazy.

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    Here in CT we are a hope away from another Mianus River Bridge falling while populism fuels residential infighting and protests against highway tolls. The Republicans are against tolls but want to utilize bonding (residents pay 100% + interest), the Democrats want tolls (residents pay 60% + no interest. The remaining 40% is paid for by out of state vehicles and trucks.) When I make this point to the anti-toll people they just attack me verbally without any credible data or viable solutions. What may happen is inaction — business as usual — and we’ll just have another bridge collapse. The residents will then blame the politicians in a vicious finger-pointing game.I had a discussion with one of my clients this morning and he said he feels like we’re locked into a Merchant of Venice moment where no one gains anything but someone, somewhere is exactingly demanding their pound of flesh. Our whole nation is locked into a Merchant of Venice moment.

  4. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Nature abhors a vacuum.In the case of LIC/AMZN, it seems like an information vacuum was created when key aspects (particularly those which were of keen interest to LIC locals) were kept secret until it after the deal was sealed. Forces immediately filled that vacuum.I don’t have an opinion on whether or not LIC needs AMZN. But it does seem like a learning moment. Don’t leave out key stakeholders in the hopes that TINA will propel you forward once the wheels are in motion. Because that creates a vacuum of information begging to be filled by those who are paying attention.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I was on the amazon team here in CT. A big part of the problem was that Amazon gave only six weeks weeks from RFP release to final submission deadline — that does not allow for the public participation process to take place.

  5. Skopos NYC

    Let’s not forget that Amazon was not quiet about this. They turned this into a competition to see what city would offer them the most. If they were silently smart about it, they probably could have gotten the deal done without the public backlash. Corporate tax incentives are nothing new. But their hubris worked against them. My wish is that large former manufacturing building they would have occupied is turned into something even better than Amazon HQ2. Folks at Jamestown Partners have done an amazing job with Industry City – a repeat of something like that in LIC would be awesome.

  6. Pointsandfigures

    Socialism is more of a danger than Trump. We just had five socialists win elections in order to enter the run off to Chicago’s City Council. Both mayoral candidates are as left as “Comrade” DeBlasio. In some neighborhoods and suburbs of Chicago, property taxes are 11% of a homes value….That is confiscation of wealth by the government.