Economy affecting, but not killing city projects: Pinsky

Seth Pinsky

Seth Pinsky

During an interview with reporters at Economic Development Corporation headquarters in Manhattan last week, the not-for-profit’s President Seth Pinsky said while it is reacting to the poor economy city projects — including Willets Point — are not at its mercy.

“Obviously the economy is affecting everyone of our projects. So we’ve been looking at different ways we can approach this,” Pinsky said.”Very few of our projects that we’ve planned are on hold.”

Though the construction industry was nearly brought to a standstill by the national economic crisis, Pinsky said there are indications that financing is starting to become available again and developers are once again showing interest in pursuing projects.

“We have to be careful about what we say definitively because everything kind of fell off a cliff at one time…But I feel pretty good about where most of these projects are right now.”

Pinsky said the economic situation has forced the EDC to shy away from the all-at-once approach to some of its largest developments.

“We have been open to looking at phasing projects, because it’s very difficult to get large chunks of financing right now,” he said.

Pinsky said this especially applies to Willets Point, where the city’s development arm was initially planning to have a single developer tackle the 62-acre site all at once.

“It’s not a phased approach but its a roll-out approach.  What we want to see happen is we’ll have a developer start with one portion of the site, likely the southwestern portion, and then as that’s finished we’ll be working on starting the next segment,” he said. “This way we can keep our original vision and time frame intact.  But we’re doing this because it’d be almost impossible to get financing for a 62-acre project right now. The endgame is exactly the same though.”

He said he expects construction to begin on off-site infrastructure as early as years end. Bids on $150 million dollars in off-site infrastructure at the site are due on Friday, the main purpose of which will be to give Willets Point access to city services such as storm and waste sewer systems and to improve transportation connections to the surrounding area.

Pinsky also said he hopes to announce new property acquisitions at Willets Point in the near future.  The city has not made a deal for land at Willets Point since the City Council approved a rezoning of the area in November and dozens of parcels of land remain in private control, raising fears that the EDC could use eminent domain to take the properties.

%d bloggers like this: