NEW YORK CITY-With a rally on the steps of City Hall, a broadcoalition of lawmakers, community groups and labor unions haslaunched the Living Wage NYC campaign, centering around a billintroduced to the City Council on Tuesday. The bill, which wouldset a wage floor of $10 per hour plus benefits for jobs generatedfrom development projects receiving at least $100,000 in subsidies,is likely to encounter substantial pushback, not least from MayorMichael Bloomberg.

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"The issue here is there are a bunch of projects that don't workon their own, and the city thinks that they have merit, and so wesubsidize them," Bloomberg told reporters Monday. "Those are notprojects that could stand higher costs. If anything, they havelower costs. And I think if you had a bill like that, a lot of themjust would not go through."

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Referring to last December’s City Council 45-1 vote to opposethe rezoning of KingsbridgeArmory in the Bronx due to the developer’s refusal toguarantee a living wage for workers at the 575,000-square-footmixed-use project, Bloomberg said that instead of having the jobsand stores that the project would have produced, "we have nothing.And that’s exactly what this bill would do. It’s a nice idea, butis poorly thought out and will not work."

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In line with her comments following the Kingsbridge Armorydefeat, Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New YorkCity, told Crain’s New York Business this week that actionon the measure should wait until after the Bloomberg administrationcompletes its recently announced study on the impact of living-wagemandates. "Legislation is forever," she said. "Markets go up anddown, and this could threaten bringing jobs and economic activityto low-income neighborhoods, particularly during difficulttimes."

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However, a spokesman for Council Member G. Oliver Koppell, whointroduced the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act with Council MemberAnnabel Palma, tells GlobeSt.com that the bill’s sponsors don’t seethe costs of providing a living wage as prohibitive to developers."They’re not looking to bankrupt anyone," the spokesman says. "Thisbill would mean an annual salary of $18,000, which is hard enoughto live on in New York City." It’s also in line with the city’s ownliving-wage requirement for service contractors, which was enactedin 2002.

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The spokesman says the bill has already garnered the support ofat least two dozen council members from across the five boroughs.Koppell and Palma both represents districts in the Bronx, whereBorough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is spearheading the Living WageNYC campaign.

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At press time, it was not known exactly how many members hadsigned on as cosponsors. At least 34 votes would be necessary tooverride a Bloomberg veto, which appears likely in view of themayor’s comments.

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If enacted, the bill would apply only to future projects, andnot retroactively to those already under way. Also exempt would beprojects devoted solely to affordable housing and those that housecultural or social services organizations.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.