Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development agency gave another $20 million grant to BFC Partners for its retail development on the Staten Island waterfront, bringing the state’s total funding in the project to $67 million.
The grant — the third round of state subsidies given to Empire Outlets — was approved Monday, Politico reported. The development is expected to employ around 1,300 people, and will bring stores, restaurants and a hotel to the site next to the St. George Ferry terminal. State officials say the extra funding is to make sure the site is protected in the case of a major storm. Hurricane Sandy flooded the area with five feet of water.
However, some are concerned about the subsidy package — which accounts for around a fifth of the total project cost of $354.4 million — amid the bid rigging and bribery scandal that has engulfed the governor’s inner circle.
“An outlet mall on prime waterfront property is a really questionable use of $67 million in subsidies,” E.J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank, told Politico. “We could build four upstate film hubs with that kind of money.”
Records reviewed by Politico show Joseph Ferrara, a principal at BFC Partners, sent Cuomo $3,500 in two checks on Jan. 4 this year. BFC Partners and entities had previously given $85,000 to Cuomo’s campaign. Cuomo aides maintain donations have no bearing on state policies.