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May 30, 2009

Ratner A Rail Loser

New York Post
By Rich Calder

In 2005, Extell Corporation bid $150 million for the Vanderbilt Yards and Bruce Ratner bid $100 million. Voting against their own fiduciary interests, the MTA selected Ratner's bid. Continuing in that direction, the MTA will take less cash from the developer in return for less of a rail yard than originally promised.

Transit officials are scaling back plans for the rail yard being rebuilt beneath Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn from nine tracks to seven -- and they're also expecting less cash from Ratner.

MTA Interim Executive Director Helena Williams confirmed yesterday that the cash-strapped agency had reached a tentative agreement to allow Ratner to cut back costs on a $445 million transit improvement plan to Long Island Rail Road's Vanderbilt Rail Yard that he promised to deliver three years ago in exchange for approvals for the controversial $4 billion Atlantic Yards project.

Ratner was supposed to pay the agency $100 million, plus provide $345 million in transit upgrades. But Williams during a state Senate hearing on Atlantic Yards said the agency allowed Ratner to renegotiate because the national credit crunch was making it difficult to finance the 22-acre plan to build an NBA arena and 16 office and residential towers in Prospect Heights. ...

Meanwhile, sources said Ratner could end up paying the MTA only $50 million, half the $100 million originally promised. Williams during the hearing said the MTA is considering allowing Ratner to make "a smaller up front payment followed by additional payments."

...

"The project that was approved in 2006 does not exist. Nor do the jobs, the housing or the arena that were promised," said Daniel Goldstein of Atlantic Yards opposition group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, who was loudly booed by the workers.

He called Ratner's original agreement with the MTA "a sweetheart deal," adding that the "MTA, which just got a government bailout, is now going to give a bailout to [Ratner]."

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Posted by steve at May 30, 2009 9:04 AM