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August 7, 2011

Commentator Marshall on New York vs. Hong Kong: "I suspect there is pressure on the MTA to lowball properties."

Atlantic Yards Report

The departure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's CEO, Jay Walder, to lead the transit agency/company in Hong Kong led journalist and urban Alex Marshall to write an op-ed in the New York Daily News about how the MTA too could operate like a profit-making company.

On the 8/5/11 Brian Lehrer Show, on WNYC, Transit Systems That Make Money, Marshall amplified his thoughts in an interview with guest host Andrea Bernstein.

...

"Why is the Chrysler Building next to Grand Central Station?" Marshall asked rhetorically. "Why is Macy's next to Penn Station? Because it's an incredibly good location. And the only reason these giant buildings can exist is because they have these transit lines underneath them that can pump thousands of workers and shoppers into them."

Unlike in Hong Kong, where new lines are being built out, allowing for new development, such as shopping malls, New York mostly lacks such opportunity, Bernstein suggested.

Marshall agreed, but pointed to MTA projects that pose opportunities, including "Atlantic Yards here in Brooklyn," Hudson Yards, and the Second Avenue Subway. (He used the unfortunate but common shorthand of "Atlantic Yards" for the MTA property, the Vanderbilt Yard, which represents less than 40% of the Atlantic Yards site.)

In addition to direct ownership of a mall, Marshall suggested joint partnerships, and value added taxes around stations to capture wealth generated from development. "This is our public money that's helping generate this wealth," he observed.

The implication: the MTA should have held an open bidding process for the Vanderbilt Yard, rather than indicate repeatedly that Forest City Ratner had the inside track, then issue a belated Request for Proposals that generated only one response--and that because Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn reached out to dozens of developers.

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Posted by steve at August 7, 2011 10:40 PM