The Real Deal New York

City Council launches office to advise lawmakers on land use

New entity aims to get members involved in negotiation process earlier

June 11, 2014 01:10PM

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From left: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, rendering of Domino Sugar development in Williamsburg and Hudson Yards

From left: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, rendering of Domino Sugar development and Hudson Yards

With the launch of a new Economic and Community Development Division, New York City Council is looking to deepen its involvement in the development process.

Council members, who have in the past come into the city’s decision-making process governing land use, will look to advise lawmakers on such decisions and building processes with the new entity. The shift would involve members from the beginning, enabling them to negotiate better deals with developers separately from the Department of City Planning, a division under mayoral control.

“It’s almost like turning development on its head entirely,” Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Speaker, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re looking to be proactive in our districts as opposed to being reactive.”

Some staffers described the initiative, which launched quietly this spring, as an in-house consulting group. The ECDD is expected to have a staff of 10 by September.

The de Blasio administration, after floating the idea of bringing City Council into the development negotiation process earlier, later backed down. According to some lawmakers, such a move would have curbed the council’s authority.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office declined comment to the Journal. [WSJ]Julie Strickland

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