Comments For The Liberty Development Corporation Hearing On 377 Greenwich, LLC – Downtown Hotel Project

 

By Good Jobs New York

November 10, 2003

 

My name is Stephanie Greenwood, Research Analyst at Good Jobs New York, a joint project of the Fiscal Policy Institute with offices in Albany and New York City and Good Jobs First, based in Washington, DC. Good Jobs New York promotes accountability to taxpayers in the use of economic development subsidies.  Our website (www.goodjobsny.org) contains the only publicly available database of the city’s largest corporate retention deals. In addition, after the attacks of 9/11, we launched program called Reconstruction Watch to help grassroots groups better understand the many incentives that were developed for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.

 

Good Jobs New York urges the Liberty Development Corporation to ensure that the Liberty Bonds proposed for the Downtown Hotel – and all future LDC projects – encourage the development of good jobs and affordable housing. These two elements are essential to fulfilling the vision of rebuilding Lower Manhattan as a diverse, vibrant, 24/7 community. We believe the Downtown Hotel project can and should help to promote these important public goods in order to justify the use of 9/11 subsidies in its development. 

 

Good Jobs:

Over 300,000 New Yorkers are unemployed right now. The economic recovery the rest of the country has begun to experience has been slow to arrive in New York City. Joblessness persists as a major obstacle to the city’s economic recovery. The Downtown Hotel Project creates an opportunity to put some of these people back to work. To make the most of this opportunity, the jobs generated by the project must be good jobs, i.e. jobs that pay liveable wages, and include health benefits, and opportunities for job training and upward mobility. Priority access to these jobs should be given to people unemployed as a result of the economic aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as well as to local residents, low-income New Yorkers, women and people of color. 

 

Affordable Housing:

The diversity and vibrancy that exists downtown today is based in large part on the amazing range of people that live and work there. But increasingly, this range is narrowing as people with low and moderate incomes cannot afford to rent or buy apartments in their neighborhoods, or face eviction due to sudden rent increases.

 

Maintaining and adding to a supply of mixed-income housing is vital to the economic, social, and cultural health of the area. The city is already charging a 3% origination fee on Liberty Bonds used to build housing downtown that will subsidize affordable housing elsewhere in the city. By including a small origination fee on commercial Liberty Bonds projects such as the Downtown Hotel project, the LDC could generate a much-needed fund to subsidize mixed-income housing in Lower Manhattan.

 

By integrating and linking good jobs and affordable housing into this and other Liberty Bond projects, the LDC will greatly augment the positive impact on ordinary New Yorkers of each dollar spent in reconstructing Lower Manhattan. The Federal resources allocated to New York in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks give us an opportunity to set a high standard for inclusive economic development. We should make the most of it.

 

Thank you for considering our comments.