TWU President Pushes MTA To Delay Vote On Development Rights of Hudson Rail Yards

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The New York Sun

Pressure is mounting on the Metropolitan Transit Authority to postpone an upcoming decision regarding the city’s $500 million offer to purchase much of the development rights over the Hudson rail yards on the far West Side.

The president of Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, Roger Toussaint, and the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, have asked the MTA chairman, Peter Kalikow, to postpone a vote, which could come at a board meeting Wednesday.

“If the property is sold for significantly less than it’s worth, that could mean hundreds of millions less for new subway cars, buses, commuter rail trains, station rehabilitations, and infrastructure, such as track and signals,” Mr. Toussaint and Mr. Russianoff said in a letter.

Mr. Russianoff said he has heard that a memorandum of agreement could be signed this week between the MTA and the city. He said he supports the city’s development concept, but not the price.

“I hope they drive a hard bargain this time, instead of being the doormat they were with the Jets stadium,” Mr. Russianoff said.

In June, Mayor Bloomberg, with the support of the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, offered $200 million for more than 3 million square feet of air rights over the eastern half of the rail yards, and $300 million to purchase the development rights over the western rail yards.

The city asked the MTA to consider their proposal this month so it can move ahead with plans to issue $3 billion in bonds by September to fund a series of Hudson Yards infrastructure projects, including a western extension of the no. 7 subway line.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat who is the front-runner to become the next governor, has said the city’s offer is “grossly under market value.”

Last year, the MTA said the appraised value of the western rail yards for residential development was about $923 million. The city says its offer is fair because it would shoulder several costs, including building a platform over the rail yards, which could run up to $400 million.

The New York Sun

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