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After the Steamroller, Focus is on Moynihan

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In today’s Observer, Eliot Brown reports that Governor Paterson “faces a host of uncertain economic development initiatives” in the wake of the Spitzer and Foye departures – and “eyes are turning to the Moynihan Station project above others.”

Avi Schick, the Chief Operating Officer of ESDC and former prosecutor in Spitzer’s AG office, has been named interim CEO of the agency. He is said to be friendly with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Paterson’s relationship with Rep. Charles Rangel may help secure federal funding for the project.

Still, Brown thinks “inaction in coming weeks could deal irreparable injury to the projects, especially Moynihan Station, as Mr. Paterson settles into his role and the ESDC goes without a permanent leader.” Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said, “The level of uncertainty on both private and public sides is at unprecedented levels.”

“For 14 months, Messrs. Spitzer and Foye had been attempting to lift the project off the ground amid a heavy load of government agencies and complex dealings with landowners, and had seen little concrete progress as they tried to round up between $2 and $3 billion in funding commitments. The clock was ticking, as Madison Square Garden, anxious to shed its second-oldest-arena-in-the-NBA status, indicated it was strongly considering a renovation of the existing facility, a move that would effectively cripple the plans for Penn Station and most of the surrounding development.”

“Now Mr. Paterson, who has signaled his support for Moynihan Station, faces many of the same challenges as the prior administration, and he will tackle them just as he takes on every other big issue in state government. For the next two weeks, the governor is likely to be spending much of his energy hashing out a budget with the Legislature as the search starts for a new downstate ESDC chairman.”

“‘Without Spitzer there and his sponsorship, it does create a void, and we’d like to see the state continue to maintain a leadership role as it relates to shepherding that project through to fruition,’ said Robert Lieber, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development.”

“While no agreement was on the table and financing was far from secured, Mr. Lieber said he believes the basic elements surrounding Moynihan Station have been advancing.”

“‘We’ve made a lot of progress around the design and a lot of progress around the budget,’ he said. ‘It’s still an incredibly complicated project—it’s going to take funding and it’s going to take commitments from the state and the feds, and having the governor’s support is going to be helpful.'”

“Advocates of the project also point to Mr. Paterson’s long history with Representative Charles Rangel, who is considered a key figure in obtaining hundreds of millions in federal funding desired for Moynihan.”

Read “Fresh Doubts on Mega-Projects as Paterson Supplants Steamroller,” in The New York Observer