Trio of developers paid $3 million to get projects going
Developers behind massive projects in downtown Brooklyn, the Queens waterfront and 1 Vanderbilt, a controversial office tower planned near Grand Central Terminal, collectively poured nearly $3 million into lobbyists in 2014.
Last year, Albee Development, a consortium of developers building part of the City Point complex in downtown Brooklyn, spent $1.2 million on lobbyists, by far the biggest sum out of any single firm in the city, according to an annual report from the City Clerk’s Office released March 1. The recipient of most of that cash, Washington Square Partners, is also one of the the three partners on the project and lobbied various city agencies and departments, according to public filings.
“As government has become more complicated to navigate, nonprofits and businesses have turned to lobbyists to provide professional guidance,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of good government group Citizens Union. “You wouldn’t go into a court of law to defend yourself without the representation of a lawyer.”
The second-biggest spender was Halletts A Development Co., a development team led now by the Durst Organization that is building about 2,500 apartments on the Astoria, Queens, waterfront. The firm spent $60,000 for government relation firms, which are typically retained for a monthly fee to meet with city officials and the public to promote their clients’ projects. But Halletts, like many real estate companies that have to push projects through the public review process, paid far more, nearly $680,500, to retain Cozen O’Connor, a firm that has a large land-use practice in addition to a government relations arm.
“Under the definition of lobbying, land-use lawyers are required to register and report their compensation,” said Cozen O’Connor’s Kenneth Fisher, a former City Councilman who has been retained on the government relations side, the land-use side and sometimes both.