Council member supported Related project in return for donation to coalition run by aide

TRD New York /
Jul.July 07, 2011 09:12 AM

[Updated at 10.35 a.m.] In a 2009 deal, Brooklyn City Council member Charles Barron agreed to support the Related Companies’ plan for a Gateway shopping center in East New York only if the development company agreed to donate $3 million to a community coalition run by longtime political aide Andre Mitchell, the Daily News reported.

“Absolutely, I recommended A.T. to Related,” Barron said. “There would have to be other groups in there” besides Mitchell’s.
Mitchell is the only signatory while spaces for other community groups are left blank. Mitchell insists however, that seven other New York City-based non-profits, businesses and advocates were members of the group. The money will go towards job training and other programs over six years to a coalition of “community-based organizations,” he said.

While similar deals have been proudly touted by politicians, the East New York deal was kept entirely under wraps. No money has changed hands, the Daily News said, because the deal doesn’t take effect until the developer gets financing and starts building.

One source claimed that Barron began encouraging Related to strike a deal with Mitchell’s group as early as 2006, which Mitchell denied.

Since the arrangement, there’s apparently been some bad blood between Barron and the developer over Related’s plan to bring Walmart to the Gateway Center, a move completely unsupported by the council member. [NYDN]

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