New York, NY – In yet another “pay-to-play scandal,” the New York Post reports (http://nyp.st/1TvgZ8L) that de Blasio made another deal with one of his cronies, Hudson Cos., to overhaul the Brooklyn Heights library and convert it into luxury condos. The $52 million transaction has drawn the attention of city and federal investigators who are now probing the details and have issued subpoenas.
Hudson Cos. was awarded the contract by the city to buy the library located on Clinton Street and add an additional 36 floors on top of it even though it offered $6 million less than other developers for the same bid. One competing developer, who declined to be named, said the bidding process was rigged to favor de Blasio’s allies.
“It’s going to be hard to explain to a federal prosecutor why Toll Brothers, a large firm, was outbid by a smaller bidder,” one source said.
In an effort to raise money for the library, the Brooklyn Public Library asked the city to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) to renovate the site and include affordable housing as part of the deal. The RFP was put out by both the city and the library in June 2013, and bids were considered by the city’s Economic Development Corp.
David Kramer, president of Hudson Cos., not only donated money to de Blasio’s campaign, but also pushed for the library contract in meetings with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glenn in the beginning of 2014.
“Kramer was telling people at the time, ‘Whatever we need to do, we’re going to win this,’” a source with knowledge of the bidding told the Post.
Since 2007, Kramer and his wife have contributed $9,125 to de Blasio. For an unknown reason, de Blasio returned $6,325 of that money, but did keep $4,850 from other Hudson employees. Kramer and his architect also held fundraisers for de Blasio. Soon after de Blasio was elected, Hudson Cos. gave $5,000 to the mayor’s Campaign for One New York, while Kramer’s architect, Jonathan Marvel, donated $2,000 in June 2015.
One of the competing developers, Toll Brothers, also gave Campaign for One New York, two $25,000 contributions. Hudson Cos. and Toll Brothers were selected as the finalists in the summer of 2014, with Hudson securing the contract in September.
A spokesman for de Blasio denied any pay-to-play was involved in the RFP, saying the process “followed a strict protocol” and that the contract was awarded to Hudson “meritoriously, as its bid provided the best overall package for the library. . .including the most affordable housing.”