In case you’re just tuning in, all that taxpayer-subsidized parking built for the new Yankee Stadium has failed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
In today’s Daily News, Juan Gonzalez reports that Bronx Parking Development Company LLC is expected to default this year on the $200+ million in triple-tax-exempt bonds issued by the New York City Industrial Development Agency, the financing arm of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Since the threat of default has loomed for some time now, let’s look at the more recent developments cited by Gonzalez.
The promise of jobs to be created by the garages was never that grand to begin with — 12 full-time and 70 part-time positions, with an average wage of $11 an hour. But Bronx Parking LLC is so desperate for cash, writes Gonzalez, that “the company plans to slash the salaries of a handful of full-time garage employees and to reduce the number of game-day parking attendants from 76 to 57.”
“The people who continue to pay the price for this thing are the kids who lost their park space, and now the handful of people who got jobs and are going to lose them,” says Bettina Damiani, project director of Good Jobs New York, an NGO that has tracked the stadium project from its inception.
On top of that, a proposal to lure a hotel to complement or replace the garages has apparently cratered after four developers who expressed interest in the deal wanted “major city subsidies.” Gonzalez reports that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who inherited the stadium parking disaster from his predecessor Adolfo Carrion, “has been pressing City Hall to come up with an emergency plan to restructure the bonds, tear down some of the garages, and replace them with low-income housing.”
How bad is it for Bronx Parking LLC? According to Gonzalez its garages are 38 percent full on Yankee game days. When the stadium is idle, they have a total of 70 regular customers for 9,000 spaces.
On the other hand, from a neighborhood perspective about the only thing worse than a bunch of empty garages would be a bunch of full garages, a silver lining brought about by malfeasance on the part of the IDA, which approved the parking deal before conducting an economic feasibility study. Also, aides to Mayor Bloomberg tell Gonzalez that neither the city nor the IDA is responsible for backing the bonds.
The garages, however, were exempted from rent and taxes unless they turned a profit, so taxpayers probably shouldn’t expect a return on their investment. More than anything, Damiani sees those empty buildings as an ugly monument to the misplaced priorities of the Bloomberg administration, whose legacy of environmental stewardship and progressive transportation policies will be undercut by acres of new parking across the city.
“This community didn’t need thousands of parking spots,” says Damiani. “I have run out of adjectives to describe how bad this is.”