According to a group of elected officials, the MTA could save millions by leasing or selling the former NYC Transit headquarters at 370 Jay Street. Matthew Sweeney of AMNY has the story:
When they look at its nearly vacant building at Jay and Willoughby streets in Downtown Brooklyn, some critics of the MTA see an opportunity to help fund the cash-strapped agency.
With another possible fare hike looming as the agency faces soaring budget deficits, the MTA could save about $100 million if it sells or leases eight floors of the 13-story building on 370 Jay Street, a group of elected officials say.
“With the agency facing a capital budget deficit and straphangers continuing to wait for long-promised service improvements, the MTA ought to be leveraging valuable real estate for profit, not letting it sit empty and unused,” City Councilman David Yassky (D- Manhattan) said.
When the MTA board meets next week, it is expected to take some significant steps to cover its budget shortfalls. The agency may propose a fare hike next year to cover the $500 to $700 million hole in its operating budget. And the MTA board is expected to approve $2.7 billion in cuts to subway station repairs and other work as it amends its capital budget for 2005-09.
“We’re watching and we’re worried,” said Gene Russianoff, senior staff attorney for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, considering the possibility of an MTA fare hike proposal next week.
The MTA is planning to spend some $150 million from its capital budget over the next several years to renovate and reoccupy the former NYC Transit headquarters above the Jay Street station.
The MTA says that it will save money in the long term by consolidating back office space from other leased properties at the building.
“At a time when the MTA is scrambling to balance its budget — with possible fare hikes and service cuts — it should not waste its resources on building back office for MTA operations,” said Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “They should allow the private sector to step forward and turn what could be a cash drain into a revenue generator.”
Some city and state officials and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership argue that by selling the building or leasing some of its floors the MTA could save $100 million to fund the repair of stations or make other improvements in its capital budget.
Two City Council members and two state Assembly members from Brooklyn have written to former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch to argue that the authority reconsider its plans for the building. Ravitch was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to run a commission charged with finding new sources of funding for the MTA. The Ravitch Commission is expected to have suggestions by Dec.5.
The letter to Ravitch points out that the MTA’s plan would leave 370 Jay Street, already vacant for several years, largely unoccupied until 2016.
The MTA says it can¹t sell the building because the city owns it, and there¹s no space to lease. A source familiar with the building said in the past, the city has put forward the idea to the MTA of selling it.
“We need the whole building,” MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said in an e-mail. “We are emptying the building as we find space so that it can be fully renovated. We have many employees in leased space that will easily fill the building when it is renovated.”
On paper it looks great to save approximately $100 million dollars when a budget deficit could be as much as $700 million. However I worry about elected officials & the MTA themselves implementing stop-gap measures instead of going for more permanent solutions.
I feel the MTA does not need to lease or sell off the building if in the long run it will cost them more money. While it might be nice to get an influx of cash at the current time, it serves no purpose if they end up in a worse state in the future. While it is nice to see elected & MTA officials trying to help starve off a potential fare hike, I urge they do so responsibly.
xoxo Transit Blogger