Streams

On Opening Day, NY Yankees Parking Garages Limp Toward Default

Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 09:21 PM

 

 

Yankee parking garage that was closed due to lack of customers. (Photo by Jim O'Grady)

The Yankees hold their first home game in the Bronx on Friday afternoon, but the company that owns their stadium's parking garages may be on its last legs.

The Bronx Parking Development Corporation is struggling to make payments on the $237 million in tax exempt bonds used to build the garages, placing the company in danger of default

As TN reported, the eleven garages were a little more than one-third full on game days last year. On days without a game, an average of  70 people paid to park there, leaving nearly 9,000 spaces empty. Each space costs $35 or $48 for valet parking. Smaller garages in the neighborhood charge much less.

Late last month, the corporation said it needed to raid its cash reserves to make its latest payment on its bond obligations. In a letter to bond holders, the corporation said that if it didn't do that, it would immediately default. The same crisis occurred before the last bi-annual payment came due, in November.

The parking company, which was set up with the backing of the Bloomberg administration because the Yankees wanted more parking spaces, also owes $25 million to the city in rent and property taxes.

In an audit last month, New York City Comptroller John Liu blasted the city Industrial Development Agency for recommending in 2006 that the bonds be issued to finance the new garages. "NYIDA did not independently analyze the financial position and cash flow of the proposed parking operation or the parking needs of the community to determine if there would be a demand for increased parking, at higher prices, in the Yankee Stadium vicinity," the report said.

Critics like Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York agreed with Liu's assessment. "This project was forced through despite the screaming concerns of local residents, transportation experts and good government advocates," she said.

The agency replied in a written statement that it relied on the recommendation of "a nationally recognized expert" in giving a thumbs up to the deal, and then helping to arrange for its tax exempt financing.

Agency spokesman Kyle Sklerov also stressed in an email to WNYC that the city would not lose money if the Bronx Parking Development Corporation defaulted on its debt. “The bonds are not a general obligation of the City or the IDA in any way, shape or form," he said.

Damiani said that may be true, but the garages going bust would mean a big hit to the reputation of the agency. "What does it mean for future projects in this city when a development as prominent as the one associated with Yankee Stadium goes into default?" she asked.

Sklerov disagreed. He said, "We expect that bond investors will continue to evaluate future IDA projects on their own merits.”

The garages were also controversial because city parkland was paved to make way for some of them. That parkland was fully replaced only last week when, after five years,  three new baseball diamonds on the site of the old Yankee Stadium were opened to the public.

A call to the Bronx Parking Development Corporation was not returned.

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Comments [4]

pea-jay

I pass by these garages on foot periodically. They're desolate space-wasting structures that detract from street life. They're also decently enough built, that the ones on River Ave could host ground floor retail and 2 or 3 story garden-style apartments on top. More residents and retail and fewer unused parking space would drastically improve the vitality of that neighborhood.

Apr. 13 2012 03:22 PM
Alex

This is just one more example that, even in NYC, there are people who can't wrap their brain around the fact that not everyone wants or needs to drive to everything. What a huge waste of money and land.

Apr. 13 2012 11:36 AM
Jacob

The new stadium was built with fewer seats, more transit access, and more parking spaces. A child could figure out that it is the extra parking that makes little sense in such a dense, expensive, transit-friendly area, where most people are already used to taking transit to the game.

The Yankees were stupid enough to insist on the extra parking, and the city was all too willing to subsidize that parking. Arrogance and stupidity all around. Who loses? The taxpayers.

Apr. 13 2012 10:22 AM
Ruth

Maybe if the parking wasn't so damned expensive more people would park there. It would cost me more to park my car in one of the garages than it costs me for two tickets to see the game. I drive to every game and have not parked in one of the Yankee garages yet.

Apr. 12 2012 11:28 PM

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