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Cuomo answer for industry woes?

New York City's economy has been so depressing that real estate professionals were glad to hear Governor Mario Cuomo's positive proposals for development.

While everyone realized most of the ideas had been circulating for some time, they also did not believe most of the projects would come to pass in the near future unless the fundamental economy changes and banks begin lending. The experts, including developers already familiar with these projects, viewed the governor's statements to be a psychological boost that is sorely needed for the real estate industry.

William Zeckendorf Jr. a partner in the ownership of land within the Hunters Point site, said, "We're very pleased with what the governor said, that every one--the Port Authority, the city and the state--is going to get behind Hunters Point. We're very pleased in general with the governor expressing his confidence in that and the city."

Zeckendorf said he thinks this initiative will "jump start" Hunters Point. The zoning and ULURP is complete, he said, adding, "Its very real and can be started in the next few years."

Zeckendorf was quick to note that his group, which includes among its six partners, Worldwide Holdings and Herbert Sturz, former president of the city planning commission and now president of a Dreyfus Corp. subsidiary called Trotwood, is not the developer at this point. "We own some land out there and very much support the plan which the city has for the site," Zeckendorf noted. "We expressed interest early on and put money into it. I think the governor said he was pleased there were experienced developers already interested and I hope we'll be given some consideration. There are not too many anxious developers around."

Donald J. Trump, who as part of the Riverside South Panning Corporation is a developer of that site, said, "We're very pleased the governor is behind it." He was especially glad to have the governor not only endorse the relocation of the highway but to be willing to finance its removal. "He's a good guy and he's done a good job," Trump said of Cuomo. "This is a really big boost for this development and having this support is very wonderful."

Norman C. Levin, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said the position taken by the state is terrific. Levin said the governor is "right on the money" and is giving the kind of specific support the city needs. "I certainly think the city needs very specifically defined projects that are economically viable and Riverside South is one of those and I applaud the governor's position," Levin said. "If we're going to have economic diversity in the city, one can't just have a broad base, ill defined program. You have to zero in on realistic projects and focus on where you can get the most returns on the investments which the city and state will make."

Queens is slated for many of the projects on the governor's list. Donald H. Track, vice president of Don Alan Realty Associates, which specializes in Long Island City real state management and brokerage, said, "Certainly any kind of involvement of state money in Queens will be an asset and will stimulate jobs and also stimulate confidence in the business community and the future of Queens. As far as Hunters Point, everyone is looking forward to that progressing."

Tack called the governor's plan a step in the right direction. "I hope its no just talk," he said "Talking about it and implementing it five years from now will not help."

Comptroller Edward V. Regan, through a spokesperson, said the proposals do not address the city's immediate needs as the Medicaid relief will not kick in for several years, and this still leaves the city with enormous operating gaps for the next several years.

William K. Block, former deputy commissioner of finance and a certiorari attorney with Schwartz Weiss Steckler & Hoffman, said the governor's proposals are "pie in the sky."

"Most of the ideas have been floated as capital projects for years." Block said, "but that doesn't mean you have specs." Block also said the financing of the projects seemed to be "back loaded" on a rebounded economy and would not be immediately helpful. The cheapest project was the science library, Block noted, but he added, "in scope that's not a major program."

Peter L. Malkin, one of three partners in the ownership of the B. Altman's building, 250,000 square feet of which would be leased for the Science, Industry and Business Library, said, "The governor's comments were a welcome activism and that a pro-active stance is absolutely essential in order to encourage the revitalization of New York City. I make those comments generally rather than specifically." Malkin's partners in the B. Altman's building are Earle W. Kazis and Morton L. Olshan.

Louis Coletti, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress said, "I think the plan he's outlined is a much needed shot in the arm to the New York City and New York State economy." Coletti believes the programs are "doable" financially, particularly many of the projects he's outlined on the transportation end. "If the governor can provide some seed money it will be easier to attract private financing," he said. "It's just what the city needs. The construction industry has been absolutely devastated. There is no question about the multiplier effect this industry has on the city's economy. These are not make work projects. They have been needed badly for many years."

Developer Seymour Durst called the governor's proposals "a new listing of old ideas."

Ronald K. Shelp, president and CEO of the New York City Partnership said they were delighted to have been the hosts for the governor's speech. Although these are primarily long term projects, Shelp noted, "it might not jump start immediately but it would give hope and ideas and let the people know that the political leadership is committed to doing something about the economy and laying out provocative ideas. We're not talking about classic 'New Deal' pump priming, but addressing a fundamental issue to maintain a world class city." Shelp also said they were pleased the governor said we can no longer afford these tax increase.
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Title Annotation:NY Governor Mario Cuomo's positive proposals for real estate development
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 2, 1991
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