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May 17, 2012 By Steven Greer
A meeting of the residents of Gateway Plaza and elected officials drew a strong turnout. The main topic was the inadequate outdated windows in the units that drive large electricity bills. The P.S. 276 school auditorium was almost half filled, and the elected officials who spoke included State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and State District leader Jenifer Rajkumar. Notably absent was the BPCA CEO, Gayle Horwitz, despite the BPCA being the landlord for LeFrak’s Gateway Plaza.
The LeFrak company has resisted for decades the necessary capital expenditures to maintain Gateway Plaza to an acceptable level. When asked what tangible outcome from the meeting might be expected, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar said, “There are 800 or so registered Democrats who live in Gateway Plaza. This large turnout will make a difference.”.
When asked what leverage any elected official has over a developer in BPC, such as LeFrak, an anonymous staffer for a state official said that the land lease deal with LeFrak could charge LeFrak many times more than what they are charged now. The Battery Park City Authority, which is not run by elected accountable officials, has not exerted pressure on LeFrak in the form of lease payments. To the contrary, the BPCA has actually offered to pay LeFrak to upgrade the windows, but LeFrak declined because the handout was not great enough, according to a member of the Community Board 1. Recall, The Daily News recently exposed conflicts of interest between LeFrak and the Chairman of the BPCA who was receiving campaign donations from LeFrak.