The companies behind the massive Gansevoort development proposal have been conducting a “push-poll” in an attempt to drum up support for their beleaguered project.
A “push-poll” is a telephone campaign in the form of a public-opinion survey designed to sell a certain product or idea (or political candidate). The questions are heavily slanted in order to suggest a particular viewpoint and to push people to answer in the way that the entity paying for the “poll” wants them to answer.
According to one neighbor who got in touch with us after being called by the push-poll, eight or nine questions were designed to convince her that Gansevoort Street should be returned to the configuration it had before buildings were converted to market use around 1939 – ie, the buildings should be made much taller than they are now. (Of course, no mention was made of the fact that they were landmarked in their current, market-style form.) Our neighbor says that the interviewer asking the questions just wouldn’t let go of this idea, and pushed her multiple times to agree with it; it was practically impossible to get through the poll without eventually giving the answer that the developer wanted to hear.
Our neighbor also said that several questions focused on the ‘run down’ condition of the existing buildings, and wouldn’t it be good to renovate them and make Gansevoort street a vital commercial/retail area? (Needless to say, everyone is in favor of renovating the existing buildings; this is a completely separate issue from whether or not one approves of the developers’ plan to demolish two of the buildings, build a new 120′ structure, and construct a massive addition on top of one of the remaining existing buildings. Additionally, as we recently reported, the developers are currently evicting long-standing tenants in an effort to make the area appear as run-down as possible.)
At the end of the poll, our neighbor says she was asked a number of questions about her ethnicity, political beliefs, and income level that she thought were completely inappropriate and intrusive.
The Villager newspaper has just run an article about the “push-poll,” reporting that multiple residents had experiences similar to our neighbor’s. After the article went to press, an online addendum was added in which a spokesperson for the developer responded to the Villager’s claims by saying that the poll was “market research” and that it showed “local residents support the redevelopment initiative by a 4-to-1 margin.” When the Villager reporter asked what questions were in the survey, the developer’s spokesperson refused to answer, claiming that the questions were “proprietary.”
Exactly why won’t the developers release the questions from this “poll”? What are they trying to hide?
And if local residents really support this project by a 4-1 margin (heck, if there are any local residents at all who support this project), why did 100 people turn out for the Community Board hearing and not a single person spoke in favor of the plan? Why did 150 people turn out for the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, and only two persons spoke in favor of the project – one of whom was a Gansevoort St. property owner who clearly wants to develop his own property, and the other turned out to be an employee of the developers?
If you were contacted by the “push-poll,” we’d like to hear from you. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the entire Villager article about the push-poll here.
Update 1/26/16: DNA Info now has a story on the poll, based primarily on info provided by the developers. Of course, the developers continue to refuse to release both the questions from the poll and the script used by the interviewers.
Update 1/27/16: And now the Real Deal weighs in, with an excellent article titled “Aurora, William Gottlieb Under Fire for Gansevoort Redevelopment Poll.”
“One resident, who’s lived on West 12th Street since 1982, told The Real Deal that one question presented the issue in extremes, asking if he’d prefer decrepit buildings or ones that honored the historical significance of the neighborhood. Another resident, Ruth Halligan, said that even though she opposes the proposed project, the questions were intentionally difficult to answer in the negative. She said while the pollsters didn’t say who commissioned the survey, it became very obvious that the developers were behind it.
If it was a push poll, it may have backfired.”
Love the photo Real Deal chose to illustrate the piece: