RE: Opinion & Analysis: To Win HQ2, Lower Manhattan Must Become a New Amazon Basin

Mr. Urstadt replies

The Beginning of Battery Park CityThe Beginning of Battery Park City

RE: Opinion & Analysis: To Win HQ2, Lower Manhattan Must Become a New Amazon Basin (BroadsheetDAILY January 24)

To the editor:
Will someone please interview Mr. Urstadt and find out what he thinks will happen to all the residents when “(a)t the end of this lease, ownership of both the land and the buildings that sit on it will revert to the public.”

As a community, we really need to address this looming uncertainty.

Maryanne P. Braverman

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Mr. Urstadt replies:

Re: Response to reader of Broadsheet on end of Lease for Battery Park City in 2069.

This lease is a good example of government expanding to the detriment of private ownership.  It is a step, albeit a long one, to socialism therefor the people affected by this lease expiration should start taking action now to avoid the entire loss of their investment.  They may not realize it but the value of their property is diminishing at a rate of 2% per year and will be worth zero in 2069.

What I meant when I said “act now” is that people affected by this leasing should organize into a strong unified political group with articulate leadership and diligently pursue all Federal, State and Local elected officials especially the Governor and Mayor to do the following:
First, at a minimum extend the lease for another 100 years to 2169.  This does not solve the problem and is only a long temporary measure but it helps.  Another helpful preliminary action would be for the City to buy the balance of the land from the State.  This would simplify the negotiations by limiting the opposing party only to the City.

Second, the ultimate goal would be for the State and City to provide an option at a fair price to all affected tenants to purchase the fee simple of their property.

In short, everyone at Battery Pak City with residential or commercial property should unify and “act now” to protect their investment.  This includes educating many apartment “owners” who don’t realize the great loss that they will eventually suffer if something is not done right now.

Charles J. Urstadt

Charles Urstadt was the founding chairman and chief executive officer of the Battery Park City Authority, serving from 1968 through 1979. He returned to the BPCA in 1995, serving as its vice chairman, through 2011.

Comments

  1. Jack Miles says

    No surprise that Charles Urstadt responded as he did to Ms. Braverman’s letter to the Editor; the time is really behind us but we cannot fix that; but we can act now.
    There are a host of reasons why developing a process and formula for the Battery Park City buildings to purchase the ground under their building would be a good thing; clarity around the 2069 lease expiry date is only one. The ability for the building and their boards to have an asset which funds could be borrowed against is a significant benefit. Would it change the financials around Battery Park City ownership; it sure would and unsure if debt service in the way of a mortgage would be more or less than the land lease but irrespective it needs to be looked into.
    The ability to borrow against the building without the land (present state) is challenging; whats the collateral, a depreciating building? With a purchase option building management would have the ability to have a line of credit or borrow for capital expenses. There would be mortgage payments, property taxes based on an assessment and depending on the structure, some of the fees we now pay to the Authority might remain.

    Certainty as to ownership is a factor now but as the calendar ticks down it will be come more of an issue.
    Deal structure also would be interesting, perhaps an opportunity to partner with some of the corporate players like Goldman Saks would place the other buildings on more of an even footing to negotiate?

    When the ground leases were being renegotiated some years ago, there was a short lived discussion on an option to buy but the issue of the moment took over and that option died. The sooner there is an initiation of the process to buy the land under our buildings the better.

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