June 2017
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MAS Testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Economic Development regarding Transparency & Reform of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Intros. 1316 and 1337

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) supports Intros 1316 and 1337 with our recommendations included herein. The proposed legislations by the City Council would amend the City Charter and Administrative Code to improve transparency and accountability for actions undertaken by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) under contract with the New York Department of Small Business Services (SBS).

Background

Intro 1316 would require EDC to include the City Comptroller or the Comptroller’s appointee on its board, share project data on the City’s open data portal, publicly release reports on the fiscal, social, and environmental impacts of projects, and hold public hearings in the communities affected by projects it undertakes.

Intro 1337 would require EDC to submit a project description and budget to the local Community Boards, Council Members, Borough Presidents for review before project agreements can be executed or projects can be approved by the Mayor.

In addition to its primary function of stimulating economic development in New York City, EDC plays a significant role in many of the city’s land use and planning projects and initiatives. Similar to the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the City Planning Commission (CPC), which are authorized under the City Charter to make discretionary planning decisions, EDC often serves as lead agency for actions subject to environmental review, coordinates with other city agencies, issues RFPs, selects consultants, facilitates public participation efforts, and represents the Mayor’s Office in negotiations for actions subject to ULURP.

In terms of its land holdings, according to the City-Owned and Leased Properties dataset maintained by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), EDC manages a total of 160 properties, encompassing over 17 million square feet of land. Fifty-five of these holdings are categorized as properties with “no current use” and 97 are committed for sale or long-term lease. The full list of these holdings is provided as an attachment to this testimony.

However, according to its asset management online map, EDC manages over 20 million square feet of property and a total of 108 sites. Based on these informational discrepancies, we feel the improvements proposed under 1316 with regard to EDC’s datasets are well warranted.

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