NYU, NYC, MTA reach deal for 370 Jay Street

By · Published in 2012

This shiny future for 370 Jay Street is one step closer to reality. (Rendering via NYU and The Real Deal)

The MTA’s headquarters at 370 Jay Street will be a blight no more upon Downtown Brooklyn. After a decade of wrangling, political proclamations and unfunded plans to renovate the building, the MTA has agreed to surrender its lease on the building to the city, and in return, the city will provide NYU with the opportunity to turn the building into an applied sciences center in the heart of a rapidly growing neighborhood.

“Over the next five years, 370 Jay Street will be transformed into a cutting-edge center for research and science that will give another huge boost to our city’s economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday. “Our Administration has long seen the promise of Downtown Brooklyn, and we’ve made the investments needed to transform it into a thriving center for business. With the addition of this new campus, Brooklyn will be one of the most dynamic environments for entrepreneurs anywhere in the country.”

According to the Mayor’s Office, NYU will pay the MTA $50 million relocation expenses. The NYPD, another tenant, will receive $10 million. The university will then pay $1 per year in rent while receiving a series of tax breaks as well. That’s quite the deal for the city.

For the MTA, though, this announcements ends a long-term stalemate over 370 Jay St. The authority had been renting the building from the city, also for $1 a year, but the MTA estimated that renovations on the property would have cost a few hundred million dollars. They didn’t have the money to conduct such work, and even as the Jay St. subway station underneath the building underwent a comprehensive rehab, the building aboveground sat wrapped in a permanent scaffolding. Politicians hated it, and the building seemingly arose as a symbol of MTA inefficiency.

When NYU first announced its plans to open a science center in Brooklyn, the university originally offered the MTA $20 million to vacate its premises. The authority, no longer willing to roll over and die as it did with the Atlantic Yards air rights, dug in and asked for $50 million. With prodding from the Mayor, NYU gave in, and the MTA will begin to move out later this year. “For many years, 370 Jay Street served as the headquarters of the NYC Transit Authority,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “Everyone at the MTA is proud that the building will be repurposed as New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress – a new business and science incubator in downtown Brooklyn.”

Of course, there’s a bit of a wrinkle. The NYU has six months to conduct due diligence on 370 Jay St. It will assess how much the renovations to the building will cost and whether or not they can be completed in time for usage in September 2017. If the due diligence finds that the building work will cost more, they can back out of this deal, and we’ll be back at square one. Considering how badly NYU wants this space, though, something would have go to horribly wrong for this deal to fall through. With the MTA though, anything is possible.

Categories : Brooklyn

35 Responses to “NYU, NYC, MTA reach deal for 370 Jay Street”

  1. Norman Oder says:

    Glad you followed up on this. I’m sure it sounds like nitpicking, but wanted to point out that MTA sold air rights to its Vanderbilt Yard, which were air rights for (part of) the Atlantic Yards project. Some people reading “the Atlantic Yards air rights” might think that the MTA property (8.5 acres) represented the entire 22-acre project.

    Norman Oder
    Atlantic Yards Report

  2. Paul says:

    A few hundred million dollars to renovate? What a joke. That building is solidly built and needs a floor by floor renovation and new windows but that is easily calculated and nowhere near that cost. There is no fallen material on the scaffolding that has been around that building for years. They are going to put a scaffold around 130 Livingston Plaza which was supposed to be the TA HQ along with Jay St so I guess that will be the next building to be given away to a big for profit institution. What do the straphangers actually get out of this deal? New trains, new buses or just more leased buildings like 2 Broadway and 333 W 34th St. while the buildings they essentially owned like Jay St. and Livingston Plaza are emptied. Check out http://www.mtamoneythrownaway.com to see how they left Jay St.

  3. Eric F says:

    The photo on my left depicts one of my biggest complaints about NYC streetscapes. That scaffolding was probably up for 10-20 years. That stuff goes up, blights the block and never comes down. Pedestrians have to squeeze through a narrower sidewalk, light is shaded and half the time this perma-scaffolding becomes a de facto homeless shelter. When it’s the government that is putting up this mess, there is zero accountability about it ever being taken down. Before downtown Brooklyn started seeing some private sector development the corridor toward the Brooklyn Bridge was an unbroken string of blocks blighted by that stuff.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    The building on the right looks like it was designed as a subliminal attempt to get people to become axe murderers. The architects involved should be investigated as terrorists, according to all the latest provisions passed by the Clinton, Bush, and Romney Obama administrations.

    • Eric F says:

      Or it’s designed to induce a young man to stand on the corner of the roof, arms extended and shout “I am the king of the woooorrrrld!!!!!”

    • orulz says:

      That one just went way over my head. Can you please explain?

      • Alon Levy says:

        What I mean is that the building is depressingly ugly, to the point of driving people mad. Since the current mood is to put concrete bollards in front of train stations and install security cameras everywhere, why not also prosecute the people who design buildings that make people go on homicidal rage? It’s tongue in cheek of course, but when tourists get turned at the border for saying things like “We’ll destroy America” on their Twitter, there’s a lot of latitude for declaring certain people terrorist sympathizers.

  5. Al D says:

    This is 1 of the problems at MTA. They move at a glacial pace. How long has this property lay fallow? It’s been an eyesore for at least a decade. What a wasted opportunity of time. Plus all those bus riders having to stand under that dark dreary scaffolding all those years to wait for the bus…

  6. Spencer K says:

    What is up with the shiny wavey metal-ish facades going up around the city lately. It’s ugly. Period. Full stop.

  7. David Brown says:

    Everyone should be happy about this eyesore being turned into something useful (Of course, you get some people opposing Columbia University expansion into Manhattan ville on the grounds that Biological Labs will be erected, so you never know). The reality is it is difficult to get anything accomplished even if there is no controversy, and that is not just the MTA (See the Admirals Row Houses in Northern Brooklyn as Exhibit A of this). The reason why deals like this, Admirals Row, the sale of Watchtower Properties in Brooklyn, NYU’s expansion, the St Vincent’s Property, and maybe even Willets Point and Kingsbridge Armory are getting done NOW, is time is running out, and if they are not done while Bloomberg is in office, they may not get done for decades, because the next Administration will likely not be so friendly towards deal making. The MTA maybe a pathetic organization, who does not know how to prioritize projects correctly, but even they knew, that the NYU deal might be the best opportunity to get a fair price for Jay St, so they took it.

    • Paul says:

      The TA had Jay St. for one dollar a year forever. I’m actually all for the NYU and Columbia expansion but not at the expense of the TA who needs money. Why doesn’t NYU go to the Brooklyn Navy Yards? Why rent 2 Broadway and leave Jay St and empty out 130 Livingston Plaza which combined has the same office space?

    • lenny says:

      I am not even sure where to begin answering your comment. First off I would like to know what you think the MTA has gained by giving up a lease on a 500k sq foot building that they leased from the city for a dollar a year. “Gee, I wonder how they will invest the dollar they save?” you seem to be saying. By giving up this lease the MTA passed on an opportunity to save the taxpayers of this city $2.3 billion dollars …as it states in the website http://www.mtamoneythrownaway.com What does the city gain by giving this building away for nothing to a very wealthy school like NYU while at the same time raising tuition on its own CUNY students? I guess the most important question to ask would be “what color are the skies in your world?”

      • They gain $50 million from NYU and don’t have pay out at least $150 million to make 370 Jay St. usable. They had a 99-year lease, not one in perpetuity. It makes perfect sense…

          • lenny says:

            Ben, That $50 million will be used to relocate equipment that they wouldn’t have to move if they just kept the building. $150 million is a very high figure to restore 370 Jay and far more than would be needed to spend to make it “useable”, as you put it. If it is a 99 year lease, as you say, then there are still 39 years left. Thats $39 dollars in total for a useable office building with 500k square feet of space. Keeping this lease in place makes perfect sense. Giving this building away and leasing another building for $2.3 billion dollars over the same time frame is what makes absolutely NO sense!

      • David Brown says:

        370 Jay St was a liability for the City and for the MTA it was an underused asset, that they are getting it off the books. Not only are they getting a fair price, but they generated good will with the community (Even Andrew Berman is happy), and they will likely get more turnstile revenue at Jay St-Metro Tech Station with the students, faculty, etc.

      • AG says:

        Lenny – the city gets middle and upper middle class job that will work at the University. They get the potential of dynamic scientific discoveries being made and business thriving off of them which produces more tax revenue. Etc. etc. etc. Success breeds success. Education – along with healthcare and technology are the 3 sectors that are growing in the national economy. This project checks 2 (and maybe all 3) of those boxes.

  8. LETMEATCAKE says:

    The building is worth several hundred million. The 50 million NYU is paying is going right back to them in the form of tax breaks. The money saved by the MTA, should they go back to 370 Jay St. and sublease 2 B’Way, would help restore service stop fare increases in the near future.

    • The whole point is that the MTA cannot use 370 Jay St. without a substantial investment that would not pay for itself over the remaining term of the lease.

      Amazing to me that the same people who complained about Jay St and the MTA’s waste now want the MTA to waste even more on renovating the building.

      • lenny says:

        Of course renovating Jay Street would pay for itself over the remaining term of the lease. The renovation to make Jay street a useable MTA office building would cost less than the lease on 2 Broadway for ONE YEAR! The MTA could then sublease 2 Broadway and move all of its offices back to 370 Jay Street and 130 Livingston. The MTA, which is always complaining about how financially strapped they are, would have saved $2.3 billion dollars in doing so. The local politicians would be happy because they would have 2 bustling buildings full of office workers that are spending and shopping in the neighborhood. NYU could find another building, one that is not specifically built to be a transportation building. This plan is all spelled out in the website MTAmoneythrownaway.com It would not be an example of MTA waste to do so. It would be a responsible spending of taxpayer dollars for once.

      • Paul says:

        I agrre with you Ben it always makes more sense to give up a building with close to 500,000 square feet of space which is currently used by the police, signals and telephone dept. foe 1 dollar a year to move to rented space. Now the TA has 4 floors for 25 years at 333 W. 34th St while they empty out 130 Livingston Plaza another good move. There is scaffolding now going up at 2 Broadway and talk of more renovations to be paid for by the MTA for a leased building another good sound financial move. The 100 plus Telephone workers at 370 Jay St ($1 per year)to move to a leased building onNorthern Blvd. another $600,000 plus per year. Another good move. Can’t wait to see what they will lease for the Signal dept. people moving out of Jay St.


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