Holiday Decorations for Roosevelt Island launched as a great idea in 2017. But that idea was a bust and maybe worse, a ripoff leaving Hudson Related holding the bag.
By David Stone
Was the Roosevelt Island Holiday Decoration Deal a Scam from the Start?
Watching RIOC’s lazy board blow another one at its September meeting jiggled free memories of how this got started. It was a bit of a con, and it later got worse. Worse especially for Southtown developer Hudson-Related as they were unfairly tagged with the shabby results.
In 2017, RIOC cooked up a way of evading legally required competitive bidding on the path to a Main Street Winter Wonderland. It was the brainchild of then president/CEO Susan Rosenthal who bemoaned the dark and dreary canyon in December.
Let’s brighten it up…
The dodge around bidding came courtesy of RIOC legal. They pitched a plan where Hudson-Related cut a deal with another private company. No bidding required, but it backfired on Hudson-Related. Asked to help as a sponsor, Southtown’s developer kicked in $25K, and filling out the $75K needed, RIOC waived some future fees.
This eclipsed the bidding process, but it also left Hudson-Related holding the bag when residents panned the underwhelming holiday decorations. It made them appear responsible for the flop when they had nothing to do with the design.
No wonder they begged off, this year.
Apologies to Hudson-Related
The Roosevelt Island Daily was as wrong as all the other critics. Under a heading, Things That Make You Say, “$75,000 for that?”, we trashed Hudson-Related for the lumpy array of used ornaments and lights leaving most of the Island as dark as ever.
We humbly apologize to Hudson-Related, and we do so three times, once for each year we joined in the protests in disgust. How could they come up with so little for that much? Well, they didn’t. RIOC did, and that’s why doubts about the money spent sizzles.
Like, if not to a “greedy real estate developer,” where did it all really go?
Okay, RIOC, Where Did the Money Go?
For four years, RIOC channeled $75,000 to The Neave Group, a specialist that does great work… elsewhere. One local business operator, accusing the state of “spending like a drunken sailor,” refused to contribute a dime.
Another feigned regret over not bidding this year when RIOC finally pulled off a board approved plan. “I should’ve bid $74,000 and kept the $40,000 profit.” He wasn’t convinced that the previous years’ cheapo decorations were worth even $25K.
But there’s even a worse part to this story because RIOC’s sleepy board agreed to $75K again, but this year, it’s all on them, and… wait for it… Neave is openly cutting back on what they’ll set up.
The reindeer herd in the Tram Plaza, for example, will be culled from six to four. Riverwalk Commons, an area under RIOC, not Hudson-Related, as many believe, gets cut entirely. And the strings of lights along Roosevelt Landings will be cut in half with all the swags gone, too.
So, where does the money go? Anyone paying attention?
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