If Mayor Bloomberg regrets his administration’s involvement in the Yankee Stadium parking disaster, he’s not letting on.
The Bronx Parking Development Company has finally defaulted on $237 million in triple-tax exempt bonds used to finance parking garages for the new stadium, and bondholders are looking for a way to recoup their losses.
“There just wasn’t the business there that the owners, who made the investment, thought that there was going to be,” Bloomberg told Transportation Nation yesterday. “If the owners of the parking garage can’t make money, that’s sad. We’ve got to find a way to help them.”
See what the mayor did there? In one shot he ducked responsibility for his role in the deal and characterized the developers as hapless victims. The developers who were handed tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and acres of public park land to build thousands of parking spaces that the stadium’s neighbors didn’t want, and that everyone — other than the developers, the Yankees and the city — recognized were unnecessary.
The Daily News reported on Tuesday that the New York City Economic Development Corporation tried to broker a deal to “bail out” BPDC and redevelop two stadium parking lots with affordable housing and retail, but talks fell through for reasons the EDC would not divulge. The Industrial Development Agency, the financing arm of the EDC, facilitated the stadium garage deal and approved the bonds.
Half of the members of the IDA board were appointed by Bloomberg, either directly or through ex officio memberships, at the time the bonds were approved. The IDA signed off on the bonds before an economic feasibility study could be completed.
“The bonds are not a general obligation of the city or the IDA in any way, shape or form,” said EDC spokesperson Kyle Sklerov. This cynical and oft-repeated defense of the subsidy agreement masks the reality of the enormous contribution from taxpayers.
According to Good Jobs New York — one of the many voices of reason ignored by the EDC back in 2007 — the city gave up $2.5 million in taxes, while the state and federal government agreed to forego around $5 million and $51 million, respectively. The city paid $32 million to replace public park land that was seized by Albany legislators, and the Empire State Development Corporation chipped in $70 million. As of January 2009, GJNY pegged the public investment in the new Yankee Stadium and its garages at $1.3 billion. That’s a lot of help, by any measure.
“Not everything works,” Bloomberg said yesterday. More specifically, it doesn’t work when you spend public dollars to prop up private parking garages in an asthma-plagued neighborhood that is served by transit and doesn’t need more traffic.