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January 5, 2012 By Steven Greer, MD
We had an interesting conversation with The New York Times reporter, Patrick McGeehan, who has covered Pier A and the Maritime Building for years. Unbeknownst to many, the BPCA is seeking a bizarre new source of additional funding for the stalled Pier A project.
A controversial federal plan allows foreigners with wealth to invest in developmental projects in exchange for green cards. According to the WSJ, “The so-called EB-5 visa is awarded to foreigners who invest $500,000 to $1 million in U.S. businesses; $500,000 is required if the investment is made in a high-unemployment or rural area. The investors must document that their investment created at least 10 jobs before they are granted green cards, which allow permanent residence in the U.S.”
The Maritime Building in the Battery Park and the Pier A, now under the BPCA jurisdiction, are both part of this new green-card-for-investing EB-5 visa program. Documents related to the proposed funding of the Roosevelt Island college campus also revealed other programs trying to capture funding, such as Pier A, according to testimony by Senator Schumer (courtesy of Mr. McGeehan of the NYT). The BPCA applied for the program in 2011. It is unknown whether any of these funding developments have led to the construction delays.
These latest financial developments are just part of a long convoluted and embarrassing history of this stalled project and eyesore to our community. In 2007, the BPCA assumed control after deputy Mayor Doctoroff brokered a deal to rid the city of the headache. A cap of $30 Million dollars was established for renovation, mostly funded by the city EDC.
It is unknown whether this $30 Million figure thrown about so often in reports is really in the bank accounts of the BPCA available for spending, whether it was delivered and squandered, or any of the details of how this amount was or was not spent. BPCA Chairman Bill Thompson and CEO Gayle Horwitz did not reply to our questions.
A source close to the BPCA told BatteryPark.TV, ” BPCA has gotten some of the money. What happened was that EDC authorized the $30 million, then reimburses BPCA on a periodic basis as the work is done. So BPCA has gotten some of the money, though I could not tell you how much. Nor do I know if EDC has officially raised the threshold to $36 million.”
Prior to the BPCA assuming control, decades of unsuccessful plans had come and gone. A Staten Island development firm called Wings Point had been in charge and failed miserably. Of note, the managing partner of Wings Point also created the BillyBey ferry company when it bought the New York Waterway routes.