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All's fair in yards war.

The clock is ticking and the field is open to all comers, but some city officials are questioning whether the Jets have an unfair advantage in the bid process for the development rights to the Hudson Yards.

Last week, MTA Chairman Peter S. Kalikow sent letters to the New York Jets and Madison Square Garden advising the parties that the MTA is seeking best and final offers for the development rights to the western portion of the LIRR West Side Rail Yard to be submitted to the MTA no later than March 21, 2005.

This week, in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg Speaker Gifford Miller and City Council Member Christine C. Quinn questioned whether a new bidder would receive the same favored treatment as the Jets proposal for its New York Sports and Convention Center.

"In recent media reports, your spokespersons have stated that it is 'unlikely ... the land would be rezoned for anyone but the Jets.," said the letter to the Mayor. "You have also stated that given the current zoning, the only likely successful bidder will be the NY Jets. As a successful businessman, you must know that this posture actively discourages a fair and open process. Not all bidders have been provided with the same framework as the Jets and not all bidders will have the same access to fulfilling the bidding rules as they currently are written."

However, Empire State Development Chairman Charles Gargano, later said he would work with any developer chosen by the MTA.

A new developer would have to rezone the site from its current manufacturing designation to allow for housing, hotels or office buildings, which the Mayor has said may take several years.

Gargano said that process may only take 8 to 12 months. "If the MTA reached an agreement with a different developer, we would certainly take a look at that project," said Gargano.

Peter Kalikow, MTA chairman wants a solution as soon as possible and expects bids to be presented to the MTA Board for consideration at its March 31 meeting.

"The MTA Board, as well as the customers it serves, needs an expeditious and orderly resolution of the sale of this important asset," Kalikow said in his letter. "Both parties will be able to put their best offer on the table to the Board in a fair and open process. This should allow the Board the necessary information to make its decision in the best interests of the riding public."

Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said the MTA will make the right decision for the city and has shown by opening the Hudson Yards to other developers they aren't playing favorites.

"By opening up the West Side rail yard site to competitive bids, the MTA is showing that it is committed to getting this project done and making sure that it gets the full fair market value for the property. With the firm March deadline in place for all bids, the MTA is demonstrating that they are focused on achieving that goal and getting the site redeveloped in a timely fashion." Spinola said. "I think the process will leave the Jets proposal as the only legitimate proposal on the table come March 2."

According to Public Authority Law 1267 Acquisition and disposition of real property, the MTA can sell its property to anyone it chooses and does not have to abide by the bid law.

"The authority may, whenever it determines that it is in the interest of the authority, dispose of any real property or property other than real property, which it determines is not necessary, convenient or desirable for its purposes," says the statute.

All bids must be based on a "where is, as is" analysis of the yards and will require the posting of a letter of credit. Kalikow added, "If other developers are interested in bidding, they too must comply with the same ground rules contained in the bid documents."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority has offered the Jets an opportunity to partner with the Giants in a new stadium planned for the Meadowlands, according to published reports.

Both teams currently play at Giants Stadium, but Authority chairman Carl Goldberg said officials are committed to building a new facility "that would welcome the Jets," said the report.
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Author:Nelson, Barbara
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 23, 2005
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