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May 13, 2009

After MTA chief Sander's departure, will successor be more willing to compromise on Atlantic Yards?

Atlantic Yards Report

Word is that Governor Paterson forced MTA Executive Director Elliot (Lee) Sander to resign because he wouldn't play ball with party bosses. Could that mean his replacement will be a yes-man, someone more inclined to renegotiate the terms of the railyard deal with Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner?

[T]he widespread endorsement of Sander's integrity and performance that has surfaced, combined with reports that Sander refused to bow to a patronage-driven pol, may mean his successor will be more willing to compromise with the reported request by Forest City Ratner to restructure the $100 million it owes and the developer's reported effort to build a less elaborate railyard than promised.

Consider that, on May 8, just before his resignation, Reuters published an article with this tantalizing quote:

Asked whether the MTA's rail yards in Brooklyn would see a basketball arena next year, part of a residential-office complex planned by developer Forest City Ratner, Sander said only: "I'm not in the arena business."

However, the MTA's willingness to compromise with Ratner just might help the developer proceed in the arena business. So the Senate should ask the MTA about those payments and about the cheaper railyard.
Sander was asked [in January] if the MTA would accept a replacement yard with less value. "I'm not sure I really want to engage in negotiations with you about Atlantic Yards," Sander replied. "The MTA has a good track record of being thoughtful and prudent."

Sander's caution might have been interpreted as showing a willingness to compromise with Ratner. However, given what we've learned in the last few days, it might as likely reflected an effort to not compromise.


NoLandGrab: Under Sander's leadership, Atlantic Yards did not make the cut for the MTA's list of projects to receive federal stimulus funding, despite Bruce Ratner's heavy-hitting lobbying efforts.

Posted by lumi at May 13, 2009 7:20 AM