Report: The LMDC: They’re in the Money; We’re in the Dark--A Review of The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s Use of 9/11 Funds

Date Published: 
August, 2004

Bettina Damiani and Stephanie Greenwood

This is the first systematic look at the allocation of economic development monies by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), a subsidiary of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, that was created to direct the revitalization of Lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. In preparation for this report, Good Jobs New York analyzed all publicly available documents, including board meeting minutes, Partial Action Plans (proposals for the use of Federal funds) and reports to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on its actual use of those funds.

We find that the LMDC favors big business and real estate interests over community priorities, awards contracts to recipients who have relationships with board members, and makes use of an unaccountable process that greatly limits public input, particularly from low and middle-income residents.

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Online Appendices (including a list of contractors receiving LMDC funds and a breakdown of authorizations by category)

 

NOTE: In response to comments from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, GJNY is including these clarifications:

* Recovery grants: The report does not "ignore" the residential grant program ($280.5 million) or business assistance ($426.5 million contribution to Empire State  Development Corporation's programs). In fact, Section IV of the report describes the recovery programs and notes that they were created in the aftermath of the attacks and have been analyzed elsewhere. GJNY chose to focus the report on the remaining $1.3 billion in funds to be used by the LMDC for rebuilding and revitalization. If we  had included a more in-depth analysis of the business and residential recovery  grants, the result would have been an even stronger conclusion that the agency's funding is skewed in favor of big business and more affluent residents of Lower Manhattan.  

* Equity: The LMDC reports that $26.1 million has gone to fund improvements in thirteen parks in Lower Manhattan. The LMDC sub-contracted this money to New York City. LMDC materials do not make clear how much money went to each of the four parks designated for funds in Chinatown and the Lower East Side;

* Application: In spring 2002, the LMDC put on their website a detailed list of guidelines for those requesting grants. (The page was updated in June 2004, the date listed on the bottom of the document.) This information does not address the frustrations of groups that put in applications over the last two and a half years and are still waiting for a response from the Corporation. The guidelines, available at www.renewnyc.com say "there is no standard application." While information about how projects might be evaluated is requested, there is no attention to evaluating projects in terms of their impact on low and moderate-income people. Finally, the criteria used by the LMDC to conduct evaluations of grantees have not been made public;

* Board: Madelyn Wils is CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute, (not the Tribeca Film Festival), an organization related to the Tribeca Film Festival.