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The New York World has an exposé on Bill Thompson, our most recent Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), that could explain why he suddenly stepped down. It seems that he was cutting lucrative deals with the big real estate owners in Battery Park City (BPC) in exchange for campaign donations to his 2013 run for NYC Mayor.
Developer Howard Milstein owns many of the new luxury condos in BPC and the Canadian company Brookfield Properties owns the WFC complex. Both groups lobbied to prevent an increase in rent that would have been paid to the BPCA (real estate is not owned in BPC. It is rented from the BPCA). Both groups also contributed the maximum amount allowed to Bill Thompson’s campaign.
According to the Daily News, “Campaign finance records show that Thompson received a $4,950 contribution from Milstein – the maximum allowed by law – dated January 11, 2012. Two more identical donations from Milstein’s wife, Abby, and son, Michael, came on the same day, for a total of $14,850.
Also taking a bite out of future Battery Park City funding to the city are millions of dollars in rent reductions that Thompson and the board unanimously approved in March to help Brookfield Properties pay for a glitzy overhaul of its retail space at the World Financial Center.
Brookfield is promising a shopper’s paradise that includes high-fashion retailers, a 21-restaurant dining complex and a massive food marketplace – Lower Manhattan’s answer to midtown’s Eataly and Grand Central Market.
The board’s unanimous vote in support of the rent deal came at the recommendation of Horwitz, who was previously Thompson’s chief of staff and a top deputy at the comptroller’s office. It also followed more than $15,000 in contributions to Thompson’s mayoral campaign by lobbyists and others tied to Brookfield Properties.
Horwitz did not respond to an interview request. A Brookfield spokeswoman declined to comment.
Under the deal approved by the Battery Park City Authority board, Brookfield will pay a minimum of $46.7 million to the authority over the next 15 years, $14 million more than under its previous deal.
But the authority also agreed to lower the rent Brookfield must pay the Battery Park City Authority. Projections provided to Thompson and other authority board members before their vote show $22.3 million in rent breaks.”
Update: The Daily News has since removed this story from their website