The proposed Four Sparrow Retail Center at Mill Basin from earlier this year. NYC Park Advocates were prepared to litigate the issue.
By Geoffrey Croft
The Bloomberg administration has quietly withdrawn its controversial plans to allow Bruce Ratner to develop public parkland in Mill Basin into a shopping mall. The City's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) had proposed seizing 15 acres of Four Sparrow Marsh under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department to expand a nearby retail shopping site.
A single line announcing the city's decision appeared on the Mayor's Office Of Environmental Coordination website.
"The Four Sparrow Marsh Retail Center at Mill Basin project has been withdrawn as of September 2011."
The rest of the website page had not been updated.
The project - along with and the Prospect Park Alliance's Lakeside Skating Rink - were caught up in State Senator Carl Kruger's Corruption Probe.
According to the Federal complaint, in December 2010 Bruce R. Bender - a vice president for government relations and public relations at
Forest City Ratner (FCR)
asked Sen. Kruger for $11 million in state funds for three FCR projects in Brooklyn – including $ 2 million for the Four Sparrow Mill Basin project, and another $4 million to renovate for the Lakeside skating rink in Prospect Park near Bender’s Park Slope home. Amy Bender, Bruce's wife, is a board member for the fundraising organization Prospect Park Alliance. In a federal complaint unsealed in March, Sen. Carl Kruger (D) who represents District 27 in the New York State Senate - is accused of trading political favors for more than $1 million in bribes the past five years.
One of the public relation angles the city took was to agree to map 46 acres (out of the park's current 67 acres) of Four Sparrows Marsh as public parkland which would, in their words, "protect, in perpetuity, these tidal wetlands and coastal habitats as natural areas," under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department. The land however is already under the jurisdiction of Parks. This property was transferred to Parks Department by the City of New York on March 3, 1994 and dedicated on October 29, 1997 as a Forever Wild property.
However, Acadia has spent big bucks, in a process that's questionable but apparently legal, to move City Point forward. As the New York Times reported this week, two years ago, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz went to bat for the project, supporting it among nearly 50 projects:
City Point received the financing, and around the same time, the lead developer on the project, Acadia Realty, gave $50,000 to a charity run by Mr. Markowitz.