Mayor looks to B.P.C.A to pay for Javits Center
By Albert Amateau
The Bloomberg administration plans to use $350 million in future surplus revenues of the Battery Park City Authority to secure the bonds that would finance the expansion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
But the plan needs the approval of City Comptroller William Thompson as well as the mayor and the B.P.C.A. board of directors.
As far as James Gill, authority chairperson, is concerned, its a great idea. In an interview after the announcement at the Javits Center, he told Downtown Express that the authoritys future excess revenue would be used to secure bonds only for the Javits expansion, not for the stadium.
Gill took part in the Thursday, March 25 announcement by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki of plans for the Javits expansion and the stadium, intended for the football Jets, and as an adjunct to the Convention Center plus, it is hoped, for the 2012 Olympics. Bloomberg on Thursday made a special mention of Gill and B.P.C.A. for their role in the project.
This is a great project, said Gill. Its wonderful for the city, for the West Side and for Battery Park City. Its a win-win-win for everybody, he said.
However, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was adamantly opposed to using B.P.C.A. funds for the $1.4 billion project. This money is desperately needed for the revitalization of Downtown and failing to do so will have dire consequences, Silver said in a statement. It is nothing less than a blatant slap in the face to the people who lived through the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, he said. The money should be used for elementary and middle schools, community centers and park improvements, Silver said.
Silver, in his statement, also said he had serious concerns and reservations about the entire Hudson Yards project, which includes the Convention Center expansion, the stadium and reconfiguring a 50-block area with an extension of the No. 7 subway line to 11th Ave., new streets, parks and zoning to encourage high-rise commercial towers between 30th and 43rd Sts.
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who represents the Convention Center neighborhood and opposes the stadium but supports the expansion of the Convention Center, said at a protest meeting following the announcement that the legislature will eventually have to approve financing for the Hudson Yards project.
None of this package is going to move without the governors asking the support of the Assembly and the State Senate, said Gottfried, and thats not going to happen with a stadium in the project.
The authority collects Payments in Lieu of Taxes from developers about 70 to 80 percent of its revenue that go to the city. The other source of revenue is mainly ground leases to developers, which accounts for 20 to 30 percent of its revenues and is used for B.P.C.A. operating expenses. In the 1980s the city and the authority agreed, with the approval of the comptroller and the mayor, to earmark the money in excess of operating expenses for off-site affordable housing, up to $600 million. The agreement was subsequently amended to allow uses other than affordable housing.
Last year, Battery Park Citys contribution of its excess revenue to the city was about $45 million and this year is estimated to be $151 million. Gill noted that the b.p.c.a. had reached the $600 million mark established in the 1980s, Gill noted. That left the city free to use the B.P.C.A. future excess revenues to back bonds for the Javits expansion.