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October 18, 2011

A proposed school of science and engineering vs. Atlantic Yards: competitive bidding and subsidies well below the city's payoff

Atlantic Yards Report

Would you believe that New York City's "game changer"--a proposed science and engineering grad school aimed at helping New York compete with Silicon Valley--looks like a much bigger bargain than Atlantic Yards--and emerging from a fairer playing field?
...

In a 10/17/11 article headlined Two Top Suitors Are Emerging for New Graduate School of Engineering, the New York Times reported:

With less than two weeks left to apply in the competition for $400 million in land and subsidies to build a science and engineering graduate school in New York City, some of the world’s great universities continue to change plans and jockey for position, and there is a growing view among them that Cornell and Stanford have emerged as the favorites.

...People briefed on the universities’ plans, whose cost estimates exceed $1 billion in some cases, speculate that one or more of the contenders will try to improve their standing by forgoing the city’s offer of up to $100 million to upgrade roads, water and power supplies, offering to pay those costs themselves.

By contrast, Atlantic Yards was embraced by city officials as a package deal, and there was never any competition to build a mixed-use arena complex, only a belated RFP, 18 months later, for a key piece of property, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

The MTA never took seriously the one competitive bid, $150 million cash from Extell, since it chose to negotiate solely with Forest City Ratner, which bid $50 million. Yes, Forest City argued that the overall value of its bid was higher, but Extell was never asked to develop its bid further, or to bolster it.

Who knows--perhaps if the bidding had gotten competitive, as with the new graduate school, a bidder might have proposed forgoing some of the city's proposed subsidies.

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Posted by eric at October 18, 2011 9:30 AM