Another Loss in the Atlantic Yards Fight
More bad news on the Atlantic Yards front. Today a New York court upheld the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) controversial deal allowing Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner to acquire a crucial 8-acre rail yard for just $20 million upfront and $80 million due over the next 22 years. Remember that the MTA first struck a deal with Ratner for the property back in 2005—but without first opening the land up to competitive bidding as state law requires. After a public outcry, the agency accepted bids, only to reject an attractive $150 million offer (on land appraised at over $200 million). The MTA then gave the rail yard to Ratner for just $50 million, though that was later negotiated to a lump sum payment of $100 million. Fast forward to June 2009, and the MTA sweetens the deal even further, allowing Ratner to pay just $20 million now and the rest over the next two decades. That's the shameful corporate welfare abuse that the court upheld today. And on an all-too-related note, the MTA today approved drastic service cuts to New York City's subway and bus systems, citing a massive budget "shortfall." At least we know where 80 million of those dollars fell short.