Home MTA Economics Thoughts on requiring developers to fund MTA capital work

Thoughts on requiring developers to fund MTA capital work

by Benjamin Kabak
A glimpse into One Vanderbilt's Transit Hall. (Via KPF)

A Transit Hall and other improvements are a part of One Vanderbilt’s $210 million package. (Via KPF)

Since my office is now across the street from Grand Central, I’ve had a front-row view of the work at 1 Vanderbilt. In a way, it’s a peek into the potential future of MTA financing. As the old building goes down and a new skyscraper takes its place, we should ask if this model of value-capture is sufficient and sustainable. The new developers of the new building will guarantee at least $210 million in upgrades for the Grand Central subway stop, but is this truly a model that the city can replicate on a grand scale while addressing the needs of growing demand for transit?

The idea behind the funding for the transit improvements at 1 Vanderbilt is simple: In exchange for permission to construct the 68-story tower, SL Green will contribute a few hundred million to fancy up the Grand Central subway station. The dank Lexington Ave. line will see improved street level access, more platform space and a larger mezzanine. Ideally, these changes will help the station better handle both current passenger loads and anticipated increases in ridership brought about by the new building, the East Side rezoning and the eventual opening of the East Side Access project.

Transit advocates seem to like the idea. On Friday, Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers and John Raskin of the Riders Alliance published an Op-Ed in the Daily News calling upon the city to pursue this type of funding on a wider scale. They write:

Over time, especially with systematic disinvestment from the federal government, we’ll need more funds to fill the gap. One promising source is sitting right there in underdeveloped land near the subway. Think of it as a kind of “value capture”: Landowners seek permission for large-scale bonuses to how big they can build. In return, they must offer transit improvements. In the past, many of the changes have been modest, as anyone stuck at the bottom of a non-working private escalator in the subways can tell you. We must be more demanding…

If we extend it to far more projects, the One Vanderbilt model could eventually bring in hundreds of millions of dollars as the city considers a new generation of super skyscrapers. (It’s true that real estate does pay citywide taxes that fund transit. But these are like the broad-based transit taxes on drivers, corporations and consumers — not tied to specific improvements.)

Many communities around New York City owe their existence to our number one capital asset — our subways. How fitting that desperately-needed subway aid should come from our number one home town industry, real estate.

In theory, it’s hard to oppose this deal. Mega-towers will likely tax the subways around them, and the MTA shouldn’t be left holding the bag as developers walk away with millions of dollars from these new towers. But in practice, I’m not yet convinced it’s a sustainable model for MTA funding.

The problem concerns, as Raskin and Russianoff put it, “underdeveloped land near the subway.” Is there enough underdeveloped land to generate enough revenue for the MTA to build multi-billion-dollar subway extensions? The land, for instance, around the Triboro RX line isn’t zoned for developments big enough to help offset anything more than a token amount of the costs, and asking developers in corridors with lower value than Midtown Manhattan may not be a fruitful exercise. This may work in Manhattan — and could help parts of additional phases of the Second Ave. Subway — but beyond that, I’m skeptical.

The MTA’s problems regard cost and sustainability. Can the MTA get a handle on its absurd capital costs? And is there a geographically neutral way to fund transit that doesn’t simply lead to more money for Manhattan and less for growing Outer Borough areas equally as overburdened? The 1 Vanderbilt model is a component to a capital funding plan, but it’s unlikely to be a panacea without significant other pieces.

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Henry April 20, 2015 - 12:18 am

This could potentially be helpful in conjunction with zoning changes, particularly for things like, say, the L in Williamsburg, the Long Island City subway stations or that new line the Bronx electeds want running from Inwood to Fordham Plaza.

Ryan April 20, 2015 - 12:18 pm

What a pathetic and visionless concept.

“Our bus is too full, so build us a quarter-length subway only along the busiest section.” Zero consideration given to how that corridor might link into a larger east-west line. Even half of the bus route it seeks to replace was chopped off, never mind thoughts of connections to Queens or New Rochelle. God forbid I mention New Jersey again.

I agree that zoning changes are critical if this is to be a sustainable funding source (and note to Larry, sustainable doesn’t mean ‘only’), but trotting the latest no-thought line drawn on a map by disconnected politicians isn’t a good example of where this sort of thing will be most effective.

Bolwerk April 20, 2015 - 1:57 pm

I don’t know if this bus corridor really is so busy, but why replace? A supplemental subway line would relieve pressure on the buses. A bus service would presumably still run just like the M15 will continue to run when the SAS is complete.

Ryan April 20, 2015 - 2:11 pm

The larger problem is not that they would be replacing or augmenting a bus, but instead that the scope of their plans is a subway line from one end of a bus route to some relatively arbitrary point in the middle of it and then to nowhere else. Hence why it’s a visionless and pathetic plan.

Bolwerk April 20, 2015 - 3:56 pm

Any transit line starts and ends at arbitrary points. If there are sufficient riders along the line willing to board and use it, then it could be justifiable. I have no idea if that is the case here.

AG April 21, 2015 - 8:32 am

Doubt it will happen now – but not sure why that line didn’t happen in the first place.. Getting east to west across the Bronx on bus is atrocious..

Both the A and C should have curved across the river and gone towards the East Bronx. Even Fordham Plaza wouldn’t have been far enough.

Chris April 20, 2015 - 1:31 am

There’s one big problem with this model of finance – it would only work in Manhattan, where the value of real estate is high enough to justify extra “taxation” for the added strains new development places on transportation infrastructure. Yet, I support this model for use in Manhattan – and would consider it for the outer boroughs as well.

The example of the Triboro RX line would be one that could only be partially funded by this method. Yet, we need to make sure that all new development that increases use of the transportation infrastructure pays (up front) for the maintenance of the new infrastructure needed to support that development. We may need to structure this as buying a perpetual annuity for future maintenance – sort of a “Perpetual Care” contract used to make sure grave sites are kept up to snuff.

In short, it might be better NOT to allow development, unless it can pay for itself NOW and in THE FUTURE. If we had done this on the East Side, the 2nd Ave. line would either be complete and functional, or we’d have fewer buildings in Manhattan. Either way, we’d have been better off…..

lop April 20, 2015 - 5:23 am

Then go a step further and say the one Vanderbilt tower won’t just tax the GC station but will increase demand elsewhere on the line and on MNR, so dedicate half the revenue you generate this way to off site projects outside the CBD.

Jack April 20, 2015 - 2:24 am

This model could be particularly fruitful with regard to Sunnyside Yards. Instead of virtually gifting the air rights to DiBlasio, why not start a bidding war among developers to create a kind of “Downtown Queens” filled with skyscrapers. Transit in the area is plentiful – it is an ideal place for skyscrapers. This could fund a good deal of the new Gateway tunnel for Amtrak.

Nyland8 April 20, 2015 - 7:08 am

?? ” … an deal place for skyscrapers”? Wherever did you get that idea? The geology of Queens is mostly terminal moraine. The only “ideal place for skyscrapers” might be a strip right along the East River, say roughly parallel with Roosevelt Island. Inland Queens is just glacial till. And most of Brooklyn is even worse for skyscrapers.

Conversely, most of the Bronx actually IS “an ideal place for skyscrapers”, with very competent rock – Fordham Gneiss, for example – right up near the surface. If the future of New York City involves expanding the area of skyline, the most logical place for it to go is north.

BoerumHillScott April 20, 2015 - 8:43 am

The myth that geology is a major factor in skyscraper construction has been disproven many times over.

It is certainly has to be considered for foundation design, but is never a determining factor in deciding if a skyscraper should be built or not.

Nyland8 April 20, 2015 - 9:27 am

Well it is certainly not a myth in NYC. In fact, it is the direct reason we have essentially two skylines.

Sure, you can build a skyscraper anywhere – even off-shore, if you want – but the viability, the practicality of the project depends on the cost of the earth works. If you have a finite amount to spend on a structure, and 1/3rd of it is going into the ground, how high can you build when compared to another structure where only 1/10th of the cost is in the earthworks? Your return on investment doesn’t come from how many subbasements you have, or from how many cubic yards of overburden you excavate, or from how many caissons you put into the ground. Your return on investment comes from how much rentable, or sellable real estate you create.

More money above grade means more profit. More money below grade means less. It’s not that complicated.

BoerumHillScott April 20, 2015 - 9:55 am

It makes a good story and was accepted as fact for a long time, but it’s not really true.

Economic/historic development patterns had much more to do with skyscraper locations that bedrock.


Chicago has very deep bedrock, and Houston effectively does not have bedrock, but that has not kept skyscrapers out of either of those cities.

Nyland8 April 20, 2015 - 10:53 am

Yes … and like I said, you can even build a skyscraper off-shore if you wanted to. Did you overlook that, or merely choose to ignore it?

But that’s not the issue, Hill, and your examples are feeble. Having no choice in Houston, or no choice in Chicago illustrates nothing. If part of Chicago had competent bedrock only 20′ below grade, you can bet there’d be more skyscrapers there.

Having a choice between bedrock on one side of the East River, and no bedrock on the other side is what we’re talking about. There are hundreds of acres of better skyscraper locations in NYC than in inland Queens. Sure, you can CHOOSE to zone things in favor of one location or another, just as you can CHOOSE to support one location with more mass-transit options than another. But all things being equal, the less money you have to throw into the ground, the more money you have to build up with – and up is where the profit is – not down.

BoerumHillScott April 20, 2015 - 11:17 am

Did you even read the link?

There is a small cost difference (around 7% of the total building cost), but that cost if far overshawdowed by other economic forces.

Calling an area “ideal” for skyscrapers based primarily on geology does not in any way match up to reality.

Here is the full report:

From the abstract:
“We find that bedrock depths had very little influence on the skyline; rather its polycentric development was due to residential and manufacturing patterns, and public transportation

Nyland8 April 20, 2015 - 2:14 pm

Thanks for the interesting paper. I’ll finish reading it when I get a chance. But has that NOT been the case in NYC? Our skylines do have greater concentration in places of relatively accessible bedrock, and the dip between our skylines does correspond roughly to the dip in the depth of bedrock. Of course there are exceptions to this “rule”. But does the paper go into the psyche of every developer and their decision to build, and where?

Be that as it may, even if only 3% were the difference, take 3% out of the cost of the groundwork, and add 3% of that cost to more real estate above ground, and that return on investment goes on for the life of the structure.

In a city like New York, even a very small lot can throw up a very tall building. Square footage is at such a premium, we’re even using newer, more expensive building techniques and materials that produce thinner walls at higher strengths, just to squeeze a few more square inches out at every floor. Witness the matchstick at 432 Park Ave, for example. Do you imagine it will ever be practical to build the equivalent of that structure in the middle of Queens?

The report doesn’t disagree with what I’ve stated. “Sure, you can CHOOSE to zone things in favor of one location or another, just as you can CHOOSE to support one location with more mass-transit options than another.” Clearly those can be driving factors, and they no doubt have been. What I concluded was by saying “ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, the less money you have to throw into the ground, the more money you have to build up with – and up is where the profit is – not down.”

That’s still true. If a developer chooses to build a skyscraper in the middle of Queens, it’s because their perception is that all things are NOT EQUAL!

Was there something else?

Ryan April 20, 2015 - 2:41 pm

I’m struggling to believe that the engineering and materials costs of squeezing more square inches out of ever shrinking developable land is always and forever going to outweigh the cost saved by building on easier subterranean surfaces.

All things are not, in fact, equal. The quality of the dirt under your building is only one of many many things that makes no two developable points in space exactly alike.

Manhattan is running out of room which necessitates nonsense like matchstick towers to begin with. Arguing that a matchstick tower in Manhattan is worth more to developers than an identical tower in Queens is technically correct but also a false equivalency – the true comparison is between an over-engineered building shoehorned into a constrained lot in Manhattan, or a complex of expansive towers in LIC that DIDN’T have their costs driven up by the need to use all sorts of space age engineering tricks to compress twice the real estate into half the land.

At some point, if we’re not there now, the metrics will start favoring the outer boroughs.

adirondacker12800 April 20, 2015 - 3:30 pm

What’s now called Midtown used to be primarily residential. The skyscraper builders went for the cheap, easy to build on land all the way uptown. Instead of the expensive land in what is now Chelsea and Murray Hill. Or in the case of Rockefeller Center, land that was already assembled.

Nathanael April 22, 2015 - 6:32 pm

Yeah, but Nyland’s point is, the metrics will favor *the Bronx*, not Queens.

Heck, NYC expanded towards the Bronx first, well before anyone built anything significant in Queens. Brooklyn was its own city, of course.

Brooklyn Heights has solid bedrock too, and is well above sea level. Like the Bronx. And unlike Queens, which is at serious risk of flooding.

adirondacker12800 April 22, 2015 - 7:38 pm

There’s more people in Queens and Nassau than there are in the Bronx and Westchester. It makes it easier to fill up the cube farms. Site it right, Jamaica for instance, and wide swaths of Brooklyn are easy to get to.

Guest April 20, 2015 - 5:58 pm

There’s a 900+ foot skyscraper under construction in LIC right now. Shorter than 432 Park Ave but the vicinity of Court Sq is going to be surrounded by highrises of varied heights in just a few years. There are already an enormous amount under construction.

Downtown Brooklyn will be getting a 1,000+ ft tower soon as well. And continued development.

Even the Bronx is going to see increased high rise development. There’s several towers proposed in Mott Haven and the average construction there is much larger than what you typically find in Brooklyn or Queens

Nyland8 April 23, 2015 - 7:34 am

This supports my point. LIC, Hunter’s Point, western Astoria … are really the only places with widely accessible bedrock in Queens County. Downtown Brooklyn is … well, downtown Brooklyn. If 340 Flatbush Ave ever gets built, it will be the tallest in Kings County . . . and still 300′ shorter than the top 10 buildings currently under construction, or proposed to go up in Manhattan.

I wouldn’t expect to see any real “skyline” developing around Jamaica, despite the fact that it is a major regional transportation hub. Likewise the area around Broadway Junction in Brooklyn. Some development? Sure. Some high-rises? Probably. But enough skyscrapers to call it a “skyline”? I certainly won’t live to see that. We’ll see a plague of matchsticks a la 432 Park Ave before we ever witness that.

Of the 20 tallest buildings currently proposed or under construction in NYC, the only one outside of Manhattan is in Queens – on bedrock!

Guest April 20, 2015 - 5:50 pm

Skyscrapers have been built already and are being built in LIC.

AG April 20, 2015 - 5:51 pm

Conversely, most of the Bronx actually IS “an ideal place for skyscrapers”

That is true… The areas from 149th to 161st could and should… But there is just too much stigmatism… That might change in another 20 years – but people still have that image of the old South Bronx.

It is changing residential wise – so it’s possible it can commercially. Still will take a while for minds to change.



Guest April 20, 2015 - 6:01 pm

Already happing albeit slowly. There are a number of proposed highrises planned for the Hub, Harlem River waterfront and several other locations. None gaining “skyscraper” status just yet but larger than the majority of proposals in Brooklyn or Queens. It’s only a matter of time, especially around the Hub and Fordham Rd.

AG April 20, 2015 - 6:20 pm

Yes – residential… I was talking commercial. As in employment districts. It’s happening in the northeast at the Hutch Metro Center – but that area is not transit rich… Therefore the buildings are all about 10 stories – and a lot of big parking lots.


The future expansion is the same thing as well.


There should be office development in the transit rich southern part of the borough – but tall and with only a little parking. It’s stigma that keeps it from happening. More people working in the borough also reduces the strain of subway lines going into Manhattan.

AG April 20, 2015 - 5:42 pm

They tried that already. Citibank built a huge tower and had plans for more (many of those jobs later went to Jersey and other cheaper states)… They are now selling the building. Much of what was zoned for commercial skyscrapers is now becoming luxury residential.


You do have a lot of new companies in the area – but they are not huge like Citibank. JetBlue is the biggest but they only have about 1000 employees. So they don’t need huge towers – they just re-purpose old industrial buildings.

jlichyen April 20, 2015 - 5:26 am

a dream i had reading this, was that communities in the outer boroughs could pool money together and help fund the development of 4-7 story buildings around subway entrances, where the entrances would be on the ground floor. Like a community garden, but in real estate.
like I mentioned, it’s a dream, an absurd one at that, but i thought it might be interesting if it ever could happen (which it won’t)

Phantom April 20, 2015 - 6:08 am

Learn how to control costs first.

Michael April 20, 2015 - 8:40 am

You can get stations built out of the center city. Look at what MBTA in Boston has been able to fund with new Boston Landing and Assembly Row stops.

The cost of an elevated station isn’t prohibitive for a lower density deal. However, it only gets you stations, not ROW. With the way costs are controlled in New York, MTA is still going to need massive capital expenditure to ever expand the system. This could be a model to rehab stations in exchange for up-zoning or expedited permitting.

BoerumHillScott April 20, 2015 - 8:55 am

I think this model where a developer pays for specific improvements immediately adjacent to the building is nice, but very limited when it comes to helping out the system.

In cases like this, it works well, but in other cases it is either not appropriate, or leads to stupid improvements.a
For example, a new apartment building on Schermerhorn in Brooklyn added a new entrance in order to get some extra FAR. The problem was that there were already two entrances on the same side of the same block, neither over crowded, so the net improvement to the station was very close to zero.

What I would like to see is a city-wide fund were developers could pay into to get additional FAR, with the money going to capacity enhancing projects across the system.
The problem with this is NIMBYs hate additional density in all neighborhoods, so they will fight it.

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 9:02 am

Tell the NIMBYs where they can stick it – problem solved.

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 8:56 am

I like this idea, but you cant limit yourself to just commercial buildings. As an example, lets say one of the large residential developers such as Forest City wants to build a tower that’s near a subway station. As part of the agreement – funding must be given for station & area improvements & the city in turn must allow for height bonuses & a greater FAR then would otherwise be allowed. This is how the MTA can maximize real estate utilization even if properties are privately owned

Stephen Smith April 20, 2015 - 9:02 am

There’s a reason they’re only doing this with commercial bldgs – see my comment below.

Stephen Smith April 20, 2015 - 9:01 am

This will never, ever work for anything other than office-oriented upzonings in Manhattan. The de Blasio admin and local council members are going to want every iota of residential upzoning upside (and then some!) to be captured by affordable housing requirements. There will be nothing left over for transit.

To be honest, just like developers don’t really understand transit (yay ferries! and airport trains!), transit advocates don’t understand real estate, and especially how aff hsg requirements eat away at the same pot of money as transit wants.

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 9:18 am

If that be the case – very few developers will build so called affordable housing as it requires them to more or less take a loss on such units.

When this issue came to a head in White Plains in 2007 with the affordable unit requirements rising from 6% to 10% along with increased buyout fees, developers stopped building all units for about 7-years. The same could happen in NYC as well if the city council isn’t careful. Developers aren’t fearful about walking away if conditions aren’t to their liking.

Justin Samuels April 21, 2015 - 1:56 am

Most new luxury housing in NYC for the past couple of decades contains some affordable housing because of tax credits. Developers LOVE these tax credits as they help them obtain financing to build buildings. Developers need these tax credits to offset the risk of building new buildings and in exchange for financing private companies governments require the affordable housing component.

The majority of new residential buildings built during the Bloomberg areas used tax credits as well.

You also don’t need to directly get money from developers. In areas that will directly benefit from development one can have the MTA or the city issue bonds and the debt on the bonds can be serviced from the real estate taxes from that area. That paid for the 7 train extension to 34th and 11th and this could pay for phases 2-4 for the Second Avenue Subway.

Larry Littlefield April 20, 2015 - 9:35 am

Moreover, the money provided might be enough for some station improvements, but it will never be enough for subway line expansions. Let alone maintenance and ongoing normal replacement.

A small funding source, yes. Something that fully offsets the fact that Generation Greed pillaged the future, in part through the MTA debt, so the Generation Greed doesn’t have to feel guilty? NO.

Larry Littlefield April 20, 2015 - 9:36 am

This is the equivalent of “the MTA does not need fare increases and operating aid because it can fund the system with advertising. Politicians are looking for a way to avoid their obligations — and shift the blame for the consequences of their past decisions.

Ben Ross April 20, 2015 - 10:59 am

Basically, what Stephen Smith said.

In Washington, WMATA gets a nice income from development on land formerly used for parking lots. But it doesn’t remotely meet their financial needs on either capital or operating sides.

A significant portion of the Silver Line in Virginia is financed by a tax on nearby real estate, but that is an unusual situation where the owners of an immense amount of commercial real estate see the rail connection as basically their salvation from disaster. It is not a feasible financing mechanism for the Purple Line because the wealthy areas already extract lots of amenities, including affordable housing, and in the less wealthy areas there’s no surplus to extract.

One thing well worth advocating for — where nimbys extract anti-urban amenities like empty plazas in front of buildings & excess parking, substitute a capital contribution to the transit agency instead.

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 12:26 pm

Interesting you brought up the WMATA in this context as Arlington’s development scheme is based on the value of proximity to it’s Metro stations via the use of transit villages. Each village may have it’s own look & feel, but they all work in concert with one another to create a seamless system of transit, walkability & small town neighborhoods with restaurants & shops for every day needs.

One of the odd village concepts can be found a mile north of DCA – Crystal City that started as a collection of 1960’s era office towers, has evolved to become the largest village in both size & population. The most interesting feature of Crystal City is what cant be seen until you start exploring it. Nearly all high rise buildings are connected underground via a series of passageways. These tunnels contain shops, medical offices, restaurants& direct access to Metro Blue & Yellow lines.

Christopher April 20, 2015 - 11:03 am

Impact fees are actually how I first got interested in development issues when I was in high school. My parents were working on that issue in my hometown around parks and schools. It’s big part of the funding model in Illinois where I grew up. I’ve looked at other examples in other cities on how development is funding transportation through land use. I think the potential to do it outside of Manhattan is highest as a lot of the subway stations are not built up with their maximum zoning allowances. Look at the 26 story building going up in Prospect Lefferts Garden. While allowable under zoning rules, there’s little value capture for the community. All along the Q there are station areas that could support higher density. Utica Avenue in much of Brooklyn is under developed as it’s waiting with temporary uses for its subway. (Mostly 1 floor retail.) We could increase capacity along the 2/5 on Nostrand with similar impact fees. Build the 10th avenue station on the 7 train. Etc. Etc. This kind of TOD planning coupled with impact fees is a missed opportunity.

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 11:28 am


There’s no single definition of value capture in this context – it just depends on the station location & the neighborhoods around it. Times Square is completely different than say Forest Hills-71st or Fordham Plaza, but each brings something of value to the table.

This real estate concept is NO EXCUSE for funding the MTA properly, rather it needs to be viewed as an add on.

Justin Samuels April 21, 2015 - 2:00 am

I agree. It’s perfectly okay to use this as an add on, but it cannot be used to fund the MTA itself. Albany and City Hall will still have to fund the capital construction budget but progress is fortunately being made on that front (Metro North Penn Station Access is funded, state rep from Brooklyn trying to push together bill to fund the missing 17 billion from the MTA 5 year capital construction budget).

This real estate concept at best pays for station improvements. The city used this before, like when Citibank paid for the MTA to connect the E,M, and G trains to the 7 train at Court Square.

AG April 21, 2015 - 8:10 am

I think you hit the nail on the head.

TOM MURPHY April 20, 2015 - 12:34 pm

Harbor Tunnel or no, there is an intent to use the LIRR branch for freight and not for a Triboro RX. Where along the route is there density for a subway?

Focus! There is an obvious need to extend subways to the city line in Queens, the MTA is plotting commuter stops in the east Bronx, Utica Avenue in Kings county, and you can’t ignore Staten Island(population growth has stalled–no access away from St. George area).

BRT, or even SBS, is not possible–we don’t have the wide triumphal boulevards of Latin America. We’re not taking down affordable housing as Moses did, and it’s obvious cars where you would want BRT are a protected travel resource. Protected because the auto is needed anywhere beyond the central biz districts in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

Nyland8 April 20, 2015 - 2:29 pm

“Where along the route is there density for a subway?”

At every single intersecting subway location. TRX would be the long-overdue beltway for the entire system, providing not only a huge bypass from having to go through Manhattan, but also enabling easier transportation options for every outage, repair, FastTrack, water main break, snow storm, night work, and Sandy-like catastrophe. And if you tunnel from Owl’s Head to St. George, then every borough stands to benefit from the project.

BruceNY April 20, 2015 - 12:39 pm

So couldn’t this model be applied in the Hudson Yards development to fund the 41st. & 10th Ave. Station that the city simply ran out of money to build? There are many individual projects about to go up in Hudson Yards–some on the northern edge would probably be more conveniently accessed from 41st & 10th. Why not have the developers pitch in to get this station built?

SEAN April 20, 2015 - 2:08 pm

Why not indeed. Developers need to realize that transit is a benefit to them & society as a whole. NYC can also benefit in that regard by extracting value & putting it back into the transit system.

tacony April 20, 2015 - 5:31 pm

The 7 extension itself is already built with the projected future tax revenue from Hudson Yards, and as the development hasn’t materialized as planned the city has had to step in and pay for more of it. (See: http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/ibore.....s2013.html)

AG April 20, 2015 - 6:05 pm

The economic crises slowed the development… Hudson Yards is indeed continuing apace and will pay for what it should have. Had there been no downturn the city would not have had to step in.

Stephen Smith April 20, 2015 - 10:55 pm

This is such a strange line of thinking. There has always been a real estate market cycle and there always will be. Any value capture scheme that assumes that construction will continue forever, without lulls and recessions, is just shitty planning.

AG April 21, 2015 - 8:09 am

Well anyone in leadership should know that… The only question is when. If the populace doesn’t understand that – then there is an issue with communication.

JEG April 20, 2015 - 2:14 pm

Ben says two somewhat contradictory things. The outer boroughs are growing, but this model is likely only work in Manhattan. While it is true that developments outside Manhattan are unlike to ever generate the funds that
1 Vanderbilt will create, that does not mean that smaller developments in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens cannot in aggregate generate substantial funds for the MTA. However, even if this model is only viable in Manhattan, funding the Second Avenue subway to completion would still be of enormous benefit. That said, given the development in downtown Brooklyn and Court Square, I suspect that this would be more viable outside Manhattan.

Guest April 20, 2015 - 6:06 pm

I agree. Even improvements for local subway stations would go a long way to improving the quality of life for strap hangers.

Justin Samuels April 21, 2015 - 2:05 am

Citibank provided funding to connect the E, M, G, and 7 trains at Court Square as they built another building next to the main Citibank building at Court Square. So with that in mind yes this could make major improvements to stations in the outer boroughs such as connecting stations that always should have been connected.

Eric F April 20, 2015 - 4:13 pm

That building looks pretty cool, but birds are going to smack right into that thing.

Larry Littlefield April 20, 2015 - 6:26 pm

For an LOL, check out the 40-plus year old “Special Transit Planning District” in the NYC zoning resolution.


It was mapped downtown, where it mandated underground concourses in the office buildings that were built on Water Street downtown, as station elements for the Second Avenue Subway. But guess what never showed up? The subway.

We got some white elephants for free through the sort of “creativity” proposed today. But not real transit.


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