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MTA Throwing Money Away

April 26, 2012
By Ray Parker, Staff Writer

TWU Local 100 is never loath to take on a fight. This time, the union is up against the entire New York City political establishment as it seeks to derail the MTA’s plan to give up its master lease on 370 Jay Street to the City, paving the way for the renovation of the old transit headquarters building into an educational center.

Why does the transport workers union want to “re-occupy” Jay Street? Because, President John Samuelsen told the MTA board yesterday, there’s a
lot of money to be saved in renovating the old HQ and ditching the MTA’s expensive money-pit rental at 2 Broadway, an office tower in lower Manhattan. Staying at 2 Broadway, the union says, costs the MTA $63 million a year. It wants to see 2 Broadway subleased, recouping some of that outlay. Subleasing is an option the MTA has under the terms of its 49-year lease from landlord Tamir Sapir.

But the skids were greased on the Jay Street deal at yesterday’s meeting, when even newly appointed MTA Board Member Freddie Ferrer, who Local 100
famously endorsed for Mayor back in 2001, voted in favor. The union points out that 370 Jay Street is a hardened building, with a huge underground parking garage and subterranean tracks that link the old money train revenue collection center to each of the three subway divisions, the IND BMT, and IRT. By contrast, 2 Broadway is right in the financial district, making it a more likely victim of a terror attack, and has no parking spots for the MTA.

When hurricane Irene threatened last year, MTA workers put sandbags around subway entrances just a few feet from 2 Broadway to protect it from possible flooding. Jay Street, by comparison, is on high ground. That’s something the MTA’s Climate Change Committee may want to look into.

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