Transport Workers Union Objects To NY MTA Real Estate Deal

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Rendering of NYU's planned Center for Urban Science and Progress, which would replace the old MTA headquarters in downtown Brooklyn.

(New York, NY - WNYC) The Transport Workers Union Local 100 is criticizing the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority's decision to take $50 million from New York University to clear out of 370 Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn and make way for a new school of applied science. Union president John Samuelson said the authority should instead renovate the largely empty building and move its offices there from 2 Broadway in Manhattan.

Samuelson spoke during the public comments session of the NY MTA's monthly board meeting. He said the authority could save the $63 million a year it pays in rent to the owners of 2 Broadway, a building the authority renovated ten years ago in a massive boondoggle, by moving its offices into the largely empty Brooklyn building it owns.

"Tens of millions of dollars in rider-generated funds are going to the owners of 2 Broadway every year, which is truly money thrown away," Samuelson said.

He suggested that money spent on rent could be applied to reverse the $53 million a year in service cuts enacted by the NY MTA in 2010 as a cost-saving measure.

The 14-story building at 370 Jay Street has sat largely empty since the New York City Transit Authority moved its offices into Manhattan. Since then, the NY MTA has been paying the city a dollar a year to hold onto the property because its 14th floor holds telecommunications equipment the authority needs to run the subway. The NY MTA will use some of the money it gets from the NYU deal to move that equipment into the Jay Street-Metrotech subway station below the building.

An NY MTA spokesman dismissed Samuelson's criticisms, saying 370 Jay Street wouldn't provide enough office space and would cost $186 million to fix up and move into. "Shifting folks from 2 Broadway to 370 Jay Street would not be an economic benefit," he said.