The Real Deal New York

Questions arise over union labor for East River Plaza project

Forest City Ratner and Blumenfeld Development Group are partnering to build 1,100 units

April 09, 2015 08:00AM

Rendering of the East River Plaza in Harlem (credit: TEN Arquitectos) (inset: Bruce Ratner and Edward Blumenfeld)

Forest City Ratner and Blumenfeld Development Group have already agreed to include 25 percent affordable units in their massive East River Plaza project in Harlem, but whether or not they will opt to use union labor is still in question.

The 1,100-unit project is slated to rise on top of the East River Plaza shopping mall.

Forest City Ratner has always been seen as a union ally, but a source close to the developer told Capital New York that this has become a point of debate with Blumenfeld, leaving the project “deeply troubled.”

Edward Blumenfeld said that he hasn’t ruled anything out, and that the project could require a mix of union and non-union labor.

“I would think, a job this size, we have to look at all alternatives,” he said. “We’re not ruling out using union. We’ve always built union.”

A union political action committee leader, Michael McGuire, told the website that he would be stunned to see Forest City Ratner move forward on a project without union labor.

The developers are involved in a separate legal dispute with each other over the redevelopment of the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, in which Forest City is saying that it never had a formal partnership with Blumenfeld.

Last month, The Real Deal reported on outrage over JDS Development Group’s decision to build 111 West 57th Street, one of the city’s tallest towers, with non-union labor. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann