MTA Chairman’s Company Loses Shopping Mall

At the beginning of 2008, a rerouting of a Queens bus made bigger news than one would have anticipated. This was the case as the reroute benefited MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger. The reroute was for the Q25 which had it now passing by the “Shops at Atlas Park”. The mall & the property it sat on was owned by ATCO Properties which featured Dale as a co-owner & President.

At first I thought it was not a big deal as reroutes that benefit riders should be looked at as a good thing. However later in the year Councilman John Liu, who heads the council transportation committee accused the MTA of speeding up the approval process of the rerouting. This is when I felt that nepotism was clearly in the air.

Now lets fast forward to February 2009 where news came out that ATCO Properties’ the “Shops at Atlas Park” will be taken over by the two banks who gave the company a $128 million dollar mortgage. William Neuman of the New York Times has more in this report:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been struggling with the bad economy, and now its chairman, H. Dale Hemmerdinger, is struggling, too.

Lenders are foreclosing on a Queens shopping mall developed and owned by his company, Atco Properties and Management, Mr. Hemmerdinger said on Tuesday.

“The world is shrinking in terms of retail sales, and we got caught in the shrinking,” he said.

He declined to say how much his company had invested in the property, the Shops at Atlas Park, which has a $128 million mortgage with two French banks, Calyon and Société Générale. He said the two banks were in the process of taking over the property, which is in the Glendale neighborhood.

In dropping its interest in the mall, the company is also giving up a large portion of a real estate property that the family has owned since the 1920s. The property was managed as an industrial park for many years, but when manufacturing declined, the family decided to build the shopping mall.

Click here for the complete report.

I am curious about one thing. Will the MTA consider eliminating the reroute of the Q25 so it no longer benefits people traveling there? If they were smart, they would not as that would just really add fuel to the claim of nepotism.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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