This time the city's strategy is to pick more than one "winner".
When the city went back to the drawing board last year after failing to conclude a deal with its chosen developers for the former World Trade Center building, it made a critical adjustment to the rules governing the selection process for the site.
This time around, instead of picking just one development team with which to negotiate, the city gave itself the right to deal with as many suitors at a time as it wants. The adjustment, intended to force the developers to try to top one another’s offers, may begin to pay off this week.
The five teams in the running to redevelop the vacant and bedraggled but exceptionally well-located 1960s office building at the foot of Canal Street each raised their bids to the city on Tuesday, a week before a selection committee will decide which team or teams the city will negotiate with to turn the 33-story structure into a hotel and residences.
The selection meeting starts at 10 so there's still time to place some last minute bets. I tried to handicap the field a little bit a month ago. Since that time, one of the contenders has gotten some attention for this Gondola-to-nowhere Wigsphere looking thing they've added to their bid. I don't think that will matter much, though. I still think they're going with Daryl Berger's Conrad group number one and Pres Kabacoff's HRI group number two. After that the city enters into parallel negotiations with both... and probably both contenders will make whatever deals with each other they've already agreed to as contingencies.
At the end of the day what happens is a lot of rich guys make more money building hotels and condos downtown. Then the mayor announces to the world that this is a sign of the city's "resilience" and we shoot off some fireworks and have a parade or something. It's good fun.