Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has steered nearly $47 million in state subsidies to BFC Partners’ Empire Outlets retail development on Staten Island following the developer’s $85,000 contribution to the governor’s reelection campaign.
The Empire State Development Corp. approved $21.9 million in subsidies to Empire Outlets last month, following a $25 million grant awarded by the state’s Dormitory Authority last April.
The new subsidies include $16.5 million from the Transformative Investment Fund – a controversial budgetary pool, created by former state Senate majority leader Dean Skelos last year, which critics have called a slush fund, according to Politico.
State officials claim the funds are being directed to stimulate growth in the area surrounding the St. George ferry terminal on Staten Island, citing how Empire Outlets will directly create more than 1,300 permanent jobs. The development is one of several, alongside the New York Wheel and Triangle Equities’ Lighthouse Point, that look to transform the borough’s North Shore.
A spokesman for Cuomo denied the multiple donations from BFC impacted state funding for the contracts.
State discretionary funds have faced heightened scrutiny after the federal trial of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, which detailed how Silver accessed a now-defunct budgetary pool in exchange for legal fees for his law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg.
On top of the nearly $47 million in state subsidies, Empire Outlets has received $25.3 million from New York City agencies and $1.5 million from the office of the Staten Island borough president.