Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning from the Vanderbilt Yard: MTA does not "roll over and die" when it makes Brooklyn deal with NYU

So, it looks like (too late) the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is doing better at negotiating than it did with Forest City Ratner.

In NYU, NYC, MTA reach deal for 370 Jay Street, Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas writes:
“Over the next five years, 370 Jay Street will be transformed into a cutting-edge center for research and science that will give another huge boost to our city’s economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. “Our Administration has long seen the promise of Downtown Brooklyn, and we’ve made the investments needed to transform it into a thriving center for business. With the addition of this new campus, Brooklyn will be one of the most dynamic environments for entrepreneurs anywhere in the country.”
According to the Mayor’s Office, NYU will pay the MTA $50 million relocation expenses. The NYPD, another tenant, will receive $10 million. The university will then pay $1 per year in rent while receiving a series of tax breaks as well. That’s quite the deal for the city.
For the MTA, though, this announcements ends a long-term stalemate over 370 Jay St. The authority had been renting the building from the city, also for $1 a year, but the MTA estimated that renovations on the property would have cost a few hundred million dollars. They didn’t have the money to conduct such work, and even as the Jay St. subway station underneath the building underwent a comprehensive rehab, the building aboveground sat wrapped in a permanent scaffolding. Politicians hated it, and the building seemingly arose as a symbol of MTA inefficiency.
When NYU first announced its plans to open a science center in Brooklyn, the university originally offered the MTA $20 million to vacate its premises. The authority, no longer willing to roll over and die as it did with the Atlantic Yards air rights, dug in and asked for $50 million. With prodding from the Mayor, NYU gave in, and the MTA will begin to move out later this year. “For many years, 370 Jay Street served as the headquarters of the NYC Transit Authority,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “Everyone at the MTA is proud that the building will be repurposed as New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress – a new business and science incubator in downtown Brooklyn.”
Note that the city is also kicking in $15 million to help NYU, as reported by the Daily News. Here's coverage in Crain's. The Times described the projected gains as "lofty estimates," a phrase that might also have been used with coverage of the MTA's deal with Forest City Ratner.

I commented on Second Avenue Sagas to clarify that the MTA sold air rights to its Vanderbilt Yard, which were air rights for (part of) the Atlantic Yards project. Some people reading “the Atlantic Yards air rights” might think that the MTA property (8.5 acres) represented the entire 22-acre project.

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