Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Penn's Landing Footnote

Here's a name you've probably forgotten: Harry Eng. Back in 2003, Eng's Atlantis New York Group was one of four finalists in the city's competition to develop Penn's Landing. The competition, which we now know was a sham from Day One, ended with Penn's Landing as empty and desolate as it's always been. Now it has come to light that Eng is a convicted drug dealer who spent seven years in prison for delivering 69 pounds of cocaine and some heroin to federal agents. The goverment contends that Eng has ties to the Genovese crime family. The story is told in all its gory detail in the Lancaster Sunday News.

Eng always struck me as a little off, even though he managed to get through the city's vetting process. And that's not just because his emails were written entirely in capital letters. His project was shortlisted not once, but three times, as the city narrowed the field of potential developers from 11 to 9 and then to 4. While several proposals for Penn's Landing were interesting, his development plan for the waterfront always stood out from the pack for its utter irrationality. Eng promised to invest $3 billion in the 13 acre site by building a 60-story apartment tower, 1,000 condo units, 12,000 parking spaces, two Broadway-style theaters, a museum, a public park big enough to hold a million people - and a platform over I-95. Aside from the financial wisdom of such an immense undertaking, Eng insisted that he would have no trouble squeezing all that stuff onto the little scrap of waterfront.

I'll never forget the public hearing where he presented his plans. A questioner asked whether construction would generate "noise" that could be heard in Society Hill. "No," Eng assured her smoothly, "No noise."

None of this seemed to bother officials at Penn's Landing Corp., who continued to move Eng's proposal along with the others. Who was in charge of the selection process? Why none other than Mayor Street's former buddy and advisor, Leonard N. Ross, who pleaded guilty last year for using his position as head of the selection committee to solicit campaign contributions from the developer.


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10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, OK, thats really interesting...

You know as a child I went to NewMarket and Penn's Landing and thought it was really neat. I then went to college, graduate school, lived in Queen's village, and then moved to the suburbs and Im still waiting for the the development that could to be built!

9:16 PM  

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