MTA Dumps Jay Street

APRIL 25 -- Money was thrown away today as the MTA board voted unanimously to give up the Authority’s $1 a year master lease on 370 Jay Street to the City of New York. The City is giving the building to a consortium of universities, led by NYU, for a new educational facility. The cheering section for the deal, led by the Mayor and other public officials, doesn’t obscure the fact that the MTA is handing over a valuable asset – a structure that was specially built for transit, which includes underground connections to each of the three subway divisions, a huge underground parking garage, and half a million square feet of prime office space – for nothing in return.

TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen told the MTA Board that Jay Street deal is “incomprehensible” to transit workers who expect the MTA to wisely use its real estate assets. The union’s website, points out how New York City Transit has entered into new leases on properties on 34th Street in Manhattan and on Northern Boulevard in Queens, even though much of its 130 Livingston Street building is vacant. Also going begging are vast underground mezzanine spaces on the IND lines which could be repurposed as office space. Is this “making every dollar count?”

The MTA’s official document disposing of 370 Jay Street, available here, says it would cost $200 million to renovate – an estimate which is much higher than the $60 million quoted to Local 100 by real estate professionals we consulted. And the document says nothing about Local 100’s main point: the MTA has the option to sublease any floor or floors of 2 Broadway, recouping millions for the MTA. It should re-locate personnel from 2 Broadway into the other space it already owns to fund a fair contract and restore service that has been cut.