New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Politico [L]eadership frustrated city officials, developers (Excerpt) by Joe Anuta, Janaki Chadha, Sally Goldenberg

[L]eadership frustrated city officials, developers (Excerpt)

[A] somewhat obscure land use subcommittee whose chairman used his position to grill developers and city officials over deals that had been struck by the de Blasio administration...

During his tenure, the Manhattan lawmaker approached routine, sparsely attended land use hearings somewhat like courtroom dramas — grilling housing agency officials and other applicants for details on financing, affordability levels and benefits awarded to workers on a given site and chastising them when they couldn’t provide answers...

Kallos will now chair the contracts committee.

“The Speaker appreciates the hard work that Council Member Kallos did on the Planning, Dispositions and Concessions subcommittee, and is looking forward to working with him on the Contracts Committee," said Council spokesperson Jennifer Fermino in an emailed statement...

“In a negotiation, it is important to have somebody who is willing to fight as hard as possible to make sure you are spending every dollar as wisely as possible,” Kallos said Tuesday. “I think there is no illusion that there were substantial disagreements between me and the administration and HPD on the levels of affordability and the number of minorities and women who are doing the work and the wages and benefits being paid to those doing the work.”

Kallos ... sent a lengthy statement outlining his accomplishments, including the preservation and creation of affordable housing and keeping city subsidies in check.

At one hearing in early 2018, Kallos questioned the city’s housing agency on several financial specifics of a proposal for a project at 425 Grand Concourse in the South Bronx, such as the value of a tax abatement on the project and the maximum amount taxpayers might pay.

“We're getting pretty deep into business terms of this deal that get negotiated on an ongoing basis between this point in the process and the closing,” Jordan Press, former executive director of development and planning at the city’s housing agency, said in response. “I am happy to discuss some of these items, other items I would prefer to discuss directly with the individual Council members.”

Kallos countered, “If only this was an individual Council member or all of our money — it isn't, it's the taxpayer's, and this is their opportunity to make sure that they're getting a return on their investment.”

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