Volume 17 • Issue 12 / August 13 - 19, 2004

Hirschfeld: I can do stadium without public funds

By Albert Amateau

Abe Hirschfeld, builder, newspaper publisher and political candidate who once did jail time for attempted murder conspiracy, came to the Aug. 3 hearing on the West Side redevelopment to deliver a few choice opinions of his own.

His testimony was a combination of one-liners, boasting about his accomplishments and promoting his own version of an Olympic stadium. He ended with “Thank you very much and God bless America,” and the large contingent of labor union members who turned up to express their support of the stadium gave Abe big hand.

“We must bring New York back to being the capital of the world. We have to build an Olympic stadium,” were some of the points he made. Hirschfeld has said he would build the stadium himself, bigger and better integrated into the Javits Convention Center than the Jets plan and without any public financing. He proposes to build a 10-story parking garage with the stadium on top of it.

“I developed this whole area,” said Hirschfeld, referring to the Penn Station environs of Fashion Institute of Technology where the forum took place. Hirschfeld, who developed outdoor parking lots, also renovated the Pennsylvania Hotel across from Penn Station.

“When I became the deputy mayor of Miami Beach in 1966, the average age was deceased,” he quipped. “They had a convention center named after a developer nobody ever heard of. It was deteriorating; nobody went there. I told them, ‘Why not call it what it is, Miami Beach Convention Center?’ They did and it boomed,” he went on.

Hirschfeld, 85, came to the hearing in a wheelchair and when an attendant wheeled him out after his testimony, he got another round of applause.

Out in the lobby, two women were soliciting signatures on a petition to put “Honest Abe Hirschfeld” on the ballot as an independent candidate for U.S. senator — Chuck Schumer’s term expires this year.

“We have enough lawyers, we need a builder!” declares Hirschfeld’s campaign brochure, which proposes “perfect solutions” to revamp Social Security, end police brutality, build the Second Ave. subway, produce a perfect school system, create more jobs and affordable housing and rebuild the World Trade Center.

There was no mention of the attempted-murder conspiracy conviction, tax evasion charges or the 1977 conviction of falsely imprisoning a city employee who did not issue him a parking lot permit as quickly as he wanted. Hirschfeld, who was publisher of the New York Daily News for a week in the early 1990s and published his own newspaper, PM New York, briefly, also ran unsuccessfully for governor against Mario Cuomo and for Congress against Jerrold Nadler.

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