As New York's push for the 2012 Olympics continues with the delegates in
town, another bidding war also got its formal start yesterday as the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority released its request for bidders for
its 13-acre site on the West Side.
Applicants must provide a $25,000 fee and formal plans within a month.
Several real estate experts said the arrangement was not likely to attract
too many more offers.
"It's not a level playing field for other developers to bid," said M.
Myers Mermel, president of TenantWise Inc., a real-estate
advisory company. "It's as if they're selling a Hummer to the Jets but it's
a Pinto to everybody else."
Monday, TransGas Energy Systems, a power-plant developer, submitted a
$700-million bid for the rights to build above the rail yards with several
conditions. An MTA spokesman confirmed that the agency received the TransGas
proposal, but he declined to comment on it.
This follows Cablevision Systems Corp.'s unsolicited $600-million bid in
early February to build a residential and shopping complex on the MTA's
Hudson Rail Yards. That competes with a plan from the Jets to pay $100
million for development rights. The city says its offer to build a New York
Sports and Convention Center would be the "crown jewel" in its quest for the
TransGas president Adam Victor said his bid for the rail yards depends on
several conditions, including his plans to build a power plant in the
Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
According to Victor's letter to MTA chairman Peter Kalikow, the offer lists
several conditions, including the MTA agreeing to buy power from his company
for 20 years at the same price it currently gets. Details of the proposal
were first reported in The New York Times.
Given the conditions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed the TransGas bid as
not a serious offer.
"They just want to build a plant, a power plant, in a place that the city
planning and economic development don't think is the right place. We think
that land would be much better used for other purposes," Bloomberg said at a
news conference yesterday at Silvercup Studios in Queens. "In terms of being
a legitimate bidder for the rail yards, that's not a legitimate thing."
Victor said his company's proposal for the West Side rail yards should be
viewed more as a power-development project rather than a real estate
He added that his company is "neutral" on what should be developed at the
West Side yards, but he supports the efforts to bring the Olympics to town
and would support a stadium.
Jets president Jay Cross said he expects his organization's bid to be
competitive and said the Cablevision and TransGas proposals are not real
"Now what I think we're seeing in the last couple of weeks is that we are
going from the sublime to the ridiculous with one gimmick that comes out
after another," Cross said.
Bidders have until March 21 to submit their plans to the MTA, which must
include details on financing, project completion schedule and the $25,000
Although the West Side yards represent the potential of a huge boon for real
estate developers and one MTA assessment values the land at $900 million,
several of the major companies contacted declined to comment about anything
related to the West Side development. Observers noted that the powerful
realestate interests don't want to go against Bloomberg's support of the
Jets bid for fear that they will draw the city's ire and see their own
zoning approvals for other projects challenged.
In addition, others noted that even if other developers were interested, the
cost of environmental cleanup, costs of building on top of rail yards and
difficulties in getting zoning changes would keep major developers from