Bloomberg hurries “legacy projects” in administration’s twilight

From left: Rendering of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center and Staten Island's New York Wheel
From left: Rendering of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center and Staten Island's New York Wheel

In the waning days of the Bloomberg administration, a number of high-profile “legacy projects” are squeaking through. Among them are the $580 million Empire Outlets mall and New York Wheel Ferris wheel on Staten Island, a $16 million experimental micro-apartment building in Kips Bay and the Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx.

Some of the final projects won’t even begin construction until long after Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is in office, including the $1.2 billion Hudson Yards office tower and a $1.7 billion Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center complex on the Upper East Side.

Still others may not make it to fruition, such as a nearly $400 million soccer stadium near Yankee Stadium, about which de Blasio has expressed “serious concerns.” And one, the proposed rezoning of 73 blocks around Grand Central, has already failed.

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“They made no secret about the fact that they’re working very hard to lock in a number of major projects for the future,” Brad Lander, a Brooklyn City Council member, told the New York Times. “De Blasio said everything will be reviewed. But some things can be reviewed and changed more than others.”

Bloomberg’s project push in the autumn of his administration is not unique. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani inked secret deals to build new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets just before leaving office in 2001, and Mayor David Dinkins hurried a deal for a new stadium and tennis center in Queens just before the end of his administration. All were eventually completed as planned.

The mayor’s push for higher-density development and revamping the city’s waterfront has led to nearly 40 percent of the Big Apple being rezoned during the past 12 years, as previously reported. [NYT]Julie Strickland