Staten Islanders to BFC Partners: “Build Empire Outlets Right!”

Press Release
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Michael Yellin– 917-434-6130

Faith, Civil Rights, Community Leaders, Rep. Grimm, NY Sen. Savino Join Hundreds in Rally for Good Jobs and Responsible Development on Staten Island!

Staten Island, NY — Staten Island faith, civil rights, and community leaders were joined by Rep. Michael Grimm (CD-11), NYS Sen. Diane Savino and hundreds of Build Up NYC members at a Borough Hall rally today demanding Empire Outlets developer BFC Partners commit to providing good jobs with a career path to the middle class.

On October 30, New York City Council will vote on the Staten Island St. George Redevelopment – a $550 million development that includes the Empire Outlets designer retail complex, a 200-room hotel and the world’s tallest Ferris wheel.  Built on public land, the project is expected to attract four million visitors a year and create hundreds of construction and permanent jobs.

While the project could bring good jobs to Staten Island’s North Shore, BFC Partners is under attack for not committing to doing so. The developer of the Wheel, meanwhile has done so saying he will pay good wages with health and retirement benefits.

“We are tired of some developers reaping public benefits and putting nothing back into our communities,” Build Up NYC President Gary LaBarbera told the boisterous crowd. “BFC Partners has not committed itself to making sure the jobs in its development are good jobs that provide career training as well as health and retirement benefits. So today, with faith, civil rights, and community leaders joining us, we call on BFC Partners to build it right and provide good jobs with a well-trained workforce that receives good wages, health care and retirement benefits.”

Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-11) supported the call: “This is the biggest development project to come to Staten Island, and it’s important that we have a skilled workforce that is paid good wages with health and retirement benefits to complete construction safely and efficiently. I grew up in a working  family and have seen firsthand the difference proper training, good pay and benefits make for  the hard-working men and women who are dedicated to building this great city. Good jobs are crucial to maintaining New York City’s middle class.  It’s only fair that when the public invests in private development such as the St. George Redevelopment, that the jobs created help raise our community up.”

State Senator Diane Savino weighed in saying, “If this Mall is going to change downtown Staten Island, then let’s build it so we can get to and from the ferry, let’s build this mall safe, lets build this mall right, lets have good jobs for Staten Islanders at this mall.”

With less than a week to go before the decisive City Council vote, the Staten Island movement for good jobs is growing.

From the steps of Borough Hall, Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne of the Staten Island United Ministerial Alliance, joined the rally saying, “We’re looking for greater employment opportunities for Staten Islanders with good jobs that support families so we can have greater resources flowing into and through our community.”

Her words were echoed by Edward Josey, President of the SI Branch of the NAACP, “I believe workers should be paid good wages, including medical benefits, a retirement package, and continuous training to advance in a full-time career. These things will provide them and their family with a good quality of life.”

A number of Staten Island organizations represented at the Rally for Good Jobs have signed onto a document outlining five development principles for the St. George Redevelopment project. They include:

  • Create good jobs, with health care and retirement benefits;
  • Prioritize hiring local residents for the new jobs created;
  • Create opportunities for local, minority and women ownd businesses;
  • Take additional steps to reduce traffic congestion associated with this project;
  • Ensure development can withstand impact of rising sea levels and extreme weather so it is built to last.

Daniel Coates, from Make the Road New York (MTRNY), a community organization whose mission is to build power for Latino and working class communities, addressed the rally saying, “We stand with you in this fight to make sure that Empire Outlets, New York City’s first outlet mall, provides real jobs with real benefits. Projects like this should benefit our communities, not just the developer. That means good jobs, with good pay, proper training, heath and retirement benefits and a pathway to a career and the middle class.”

Matt Ryan, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN), said, “There is no economic reason why BFC cannot pay the same wages or benefits as other responsible developers have paid in the outer boroughs.  If BFC does not pay good wages with health and retirement benefits, BFC will shortchange Staten Island residents and perpetuate underemployment on the Island.”

Build Up NYC is an alliance of working men and women committed to good jobs that sustain the middle class and to a level playing field for responsible employers.