Anger foments over neglected MTA property in Brooklyn

Joe Chan, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President, is campaigning for the MTA to sell or renovate 370 jay street in Brooklyn. (Photo by Ryan Thatcher)

Brooklyn business owners and residents are asking the MTA to wash its hands of its 370 Jay St. property, a 13-story hulk in the heart of downtown Brooklyn that has deteriorated since NYC Transit yanked most of its operations from there about four years ago.

“It’s an embarrassment,” said Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a business alliance. “We’re seeing a history of inaction and neglect.”

The property, which the MTA plans to use to house administrative offices, is covered in bird droppings and peeling paint, and its scaffolding has been up since 1995 — creating a dark corridor for commuters walking from the Jay St-Borough Hall station.

“It doesn’t feel safe at night. I don’t know who’s hanging out there under all that scaffolding,” said Cynthia Davis, 21, a Brooklyn rider.

The city owns the building and leases it to the MTA, so the agency wouldn’t make money by selling it. But the 418,000-square-foot property needs $184 million to gut it and replace the facade, up 23 percent from the previous estimate in 2008, according to MTA figures.

“The MTA has failed when it’s tried to become a developer,” said Assemb. Richard Brodsky, (D-Westchester), who wants the agency to rethink its plans for 370 Jay St.

Money for the renovations was postponed by two years and is now included in the 2010 capital plan, MTA documents show, though it’s unclear when the building will be ready. In the meantime, the agency recently took out a lease in midtown for about $3 million a year to house operations that will eventually go in 370 Jay St.

Once open, the new space will end up saving the agency money, “to the tune of approximately $25 million a year,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

Tags: mta , new york transit , jay street

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