Relocation Travesty, Part II – Marshall's Unpublished Plan
"The City will make an effort to relocate Willets Point tenant businesses."
No Helen Marshall plan.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall's Plan for Tenant Businesses: Still Unpublished and "Private", Two Years Later
During 2008, when the proposed Willets Point redevelopment was approved through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure ("ULURP"), there was universal agreement that the Willets Point tenant businesses must be treated fairly and an effort made to relocate them. However, when testifying during ULURP, City officials emphasized candidly that although the City recognized the importance of relocating tenant businesses, the City could not actually begin to do so until the completion of ULURP. For the City to do otherwise might have constituted tortious interference with the then-existing landlord-tenant relationships, and the City wanted to avoid such interference.
On that point, Robert Lieber, then-president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation ("EDC"), told the New York City Council subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions on October 17, 2008: "With respect to the tenant businesses, we are legally prevented from directly negotiating their relocation until after the completion of ULURP."
Although City officials may have been prevented from directly negotiating tenant business relocations while ULURP was still pending, arguably they could have articulated a specific relocation plan. Merely describing a relocation plan without actually offering it to any business arguably would not have constituted tortious interference – but certainly would have helped to calm the concerns of 240 tenant businesses about their uncertain futures due to the proposed Willets Point development.
With that background, it is interesting to revisit the remarks of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall to the New York City Council subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions on October 17, 2008. Marshall testifies that she has a "good plan" for the tenant businesses, but that it is "all part of our future thing" which she cannot yet reveal:
Shortly after Marshall testified that "there is a good plan" for the tenant businesses, by the end of 2008, the ULURP for the proposed Willets Point development was completed. Moreover, in the two years since that time, the City has acquired much of the Willets Point property where tenant businesses operate. Consequently, today nothing prevents the City from communicating with those tenant businesses regarding their relocation, and nothing prevents Marshall now from revealing her "good plan" – if it ever existed.
However, for over two years, Marshall has continued to shroud her "good plan" in complete secrecy, even though there is no longer any reason to do so. Why has Marshall's "good plan" for tenant businesses never been revealed to the public? Did Marshall's "good plan" ever exist?
Willets Point Watchdog calls upon Queens Borough President Helen Marshall to immediately reveal the details of the "good plan" for tenant businesses that Marshall claimed to be working on more than two years ago during 2008. It is especially urgent that Marshall do so now, as the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development is requiring occupants of certain properties acquired by the City to vacate the premises, and those occupants were promised relocation services that have never materialized.