Monday, June 29, 2009

Video: MTA official says FCR's arena plans were "principal driver" of "cramped" timing for board to vote on revised deal

I now have video of a remarkable exchange during the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Finance Committee meeting last Monday, about which I wrote on Tuesday. 

The transcript below is more precise, and includes MTA Chief Financial Officer Gary Dellaverson explaining that if the board members felt cramped because they had less than 48 hours to evaluate a more generous deal with Forest City Ratner for the Vanderbilt Yard, well, "There's not much I can do about it. That is what it is."



Board member Doreen Frasca said, "I guess just an observation, and I know staff has worked very long and hard on this, including into this weekend, but I note that it's one month shy of four years since the board accepted the Forest City Ratner proposal, and this committee and this board is being given less than 48 hours to understand the complexities and vote intelligently... I think that's pretty outrageous. Why do we have to vote on Wednesday?"

"Well, of course, you don't," Dellaverson responded. "It's entirely at the board's discretion to accept or reject, to send back to the negotiating table, or to simply warehouse. I think that, the way that I would describe the timing to you--I think that the feeling cramped--there's not much I can do about it. That is what it is. That's a function of the--I came back to you and reported to you last month on what it is that I thought was going to happen in the contours of those negotiations, and it has happened consistent with that time frame.

I think that, in terms of why must it be now in the summer versus in the fall, I think that really relates to Forest City's desire to market their bonds as a tax-exempt issuance [by a December 31 deadline]. If the structure... is not such that allows for the marketability of the bonds, then the financial aspect of the transaction, as it relates to arena construction expenses that Forest City Ratner would incur, become less viable and perhaps not viable. That's not something that I'm prepared to say from my own knowledge... but I would be remiss if I suggested anything other--that's the principal driver of the timing."

"The arena?" Frasca followed up.

"Sure," Dellaverson responded.

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