MTA looks to unload Madison Avenue HQ

April 21, 2011 10:02AM

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Has Put Its Madison Avenue headquarters and two adjacent buildings on the market in an attempt to close its massive budget gap and expects to bring in upwards of $150 million in a sale.

According to the New York Times, the three, 20-story buildings, at 341, 345 and 347 Madison Avenue could fetch at least that much thanks to the opportunity to purchase air rights from Grand Central. A buyer could opt to demolish the existing structures and use those air rights to erect a taller-than-usual skyscraper on the site.

The MTA purchased 347 Madison for $11.9 million in 1979 and acquired the other two properties in 1991 for a combined $36 million. Speculation that the agency might sell them off surfaced earlier this spring as it considered ways to avoid more fare hikes or mass transit cuts.

It’s not the first time the MTA has thought about selling: in 1998 and 2005, prospective bidders were brought in, but the agency ultimately decided not to part with the properties. But Jeffrey Rosen, the MTA’s director of real estate, said that this time the agency is serious about either a sale or a long-term lease, and is also evaluating its real estate holdings at 26 other buildings throughout the city.

“I’d take a look… for the third time,” developer Douglas Durst told the Times.

Most workers at the headquarters building would likely be moved to 2 Broadway, while Metro North Railroad employees would be relocated elsewhere in Midtown in the event of a sale. [NYT]

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