Government Briefs

MTA opens fate of rail yards to bidders
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the sale of rail yards envisioned by some city and state officials as a location for a West Side stadium to other bidders besides the Jets and Madison Square Garden. The move came after MSG said it would pay $600 million for the 13-acre rail yards site, where it would build housing and office buildings. The Jets had offered to pay $100 million for the land to the cash-strapped transportation authority, which had appraised the land at just short of $1 billion but was willing to take $300 million. The Jets also released a redesigned stadium plan last month, which includes a leaner, less imposing glass-walled structure. And a study by the Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded nonpartisan watchdog group, found the tax revenue generated by the proposed stadium would cover the city’s costs and provide a total surplus of more than $200 million in the next three decades.

No. 7 subway line extension gets funding
A proposal to extend the No. 7 subway line to Manhattan’s far West Side received $45 million in funding by the city last month and is expected to go into construction later this year. The city will spend $2 billion to stretch the subway line west from Times Square by 2010. The plan will go forward no matter what the fate of a proposed West Side stadium for the Jets.

United Nations scouring boroughs for interim HQ
The United Nations is scouring other boroughs such as downtown Brooklyn and Queens in search of a location to build its interim headquarters, which would eventually become a permanent location for office workers, the Post reported. Earlier plans for a 35-story building to be built on Robert Moses Park, a playground next to the UN in Manhattan, were stalled by the New York state Senate.

Developers get affordable housing incentives
Officials at the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department are seeking to push more affordable housing in Brooklyn and Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Commissioner Shaun Donovan is proposing that the city offer developers an 18 percent increase in floor space if they agree to make 15 to 25 percent of their units affordable. In Manhattan, under a plan approved for the far West Side rezoning, developers can add 33 percent to density if 20 to 30 percent of the units they are building are affordable, Crain’s reported.

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Bronx superstore shot down by council
In what some reports characterized as a backlash against big box superstores, a City Council panel unanimously rejected an application from BJ’s Wholesale Club to open in the Bronx, effectively killing a project that had been in the works for a year. Organized labor had intensely lobbied lawmakers to deny zoning changes because of BJ’s alleged anti-union policies, the Post reported.

Discrimination suit filed against co-op
A wealthy Mexican banker rejected by the co-op board at 965 Fifth Avenue, who has a child with Down syndrome, last month filed a lawsuit against the 965 Fifth Avenue Owners Inc. and Brown Harris Stevens Residential Management alleging discrimination against people of Mexican descent, along with families with young children and the disabled, the Post reported. Brown Harris said Gonzalez’s application was denied because of a tax lien filed against him, according to the suit.

Bush backs Kennedy rail connection in budget
In a budget plan issued last month, President Bush proposed using $2 billion in Sept. 11 aid to build a $6 billion rail link connecting the World Trade Center site to the Long Island Rail Road and Kennedy International Airport. The MTA is also moving ahead on the plan, choosing a consultant to conduct a $60 million environmental impact study on the project.

Gehry-designed theater plan unveiled
The city unveiled a design for a $38 million theater created by Hugh Hardy and Frank Gehry that would rise opposite the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the borough’s Fort Greene section. The structure is the cornerstone of the new BAM Cultural District, a $650 million effort to convert vacant and underused properties in the area into space for arts organizations.