April 23, 2010 - Parking Lot A- (Former 2.9 acre ball field in Macombs Dam Park) No Surprise. For years critics of the Yankee Stadium redevelopment project have predicted the city's tax-payers would be on the hook for the $340 million parking garage system deal negotiated by the Bloomberg administration. Bronx Parking Development Co., which runs the garages for the new stadium, faces an April 1 due date for a $6.8 million interest payment on bonds issued to fund construction of three parking facilities. The private development company had to dip into reserves to make a similar payment in October, and—barring a last-minute renegotiation—all signs point to a default this time. A default could set up a seizure by bondholders and would leave the garages' future in question. Compounding the problem, the administration gave the Yankee organization 600 free spots in the VIP garage. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on Images to enlarge.
The Bloomberg and Pataki administration fought to seize 25.3 acres of public parkland in the South Bronx in order to accommodate the building of a new stadium for the New York Yankees, including the building of thousands of additional parking spaces in the asthma capital of America. The Bloomberg administration selected Bronx Parking in 2007 to build and run the garages after the Yankees demanded a minimum of 9,000 spaces to stay in the Bronx. As predicted the Yankee organization's insistence of building more parking turned into a nightmare for the city's taxpayers and community residents.
May 20, 2009 - 2.9 acre ball field in Macombs Dam Park. Not Getting it. For more than 70 years the public used the parkland, including this ballfield that the elected officials allowed to be taken for a Yankee parking lot. Instead of restoring parkland that was seized from the community, Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., is suggesting building a hotel on it, an irresponsible idea left over from the previous BP, Adolfo Carrión, Jr. Elected officials, including then State Assembly member Díaz Jr. allowed the Yankees to take the 25.3 acres of public parkland which, among other things, resulted in a net loss of parkland in the community.
The first pitch of the baseball season and the return of thousands of fans cannot come fast enough for most businesses around Yankee Stadium. But one company might prefer that April be postponed this year. Bronx Parking Development Co., which runs the garages for the new stadium, faces an April 1 due date for a $6.8 million interest payment on bonds issued to fund construction of three facilities. The company had to dip into reserves to make a similar payment in October, and—barring a last-minute renegotiation—all signs point to a default this time, according to Crain's.
A default could set up a seizure by bondholders and would leave the garages' future in question. The property, which covers some 21 acres, was part of parkland taken over to make way for the current incarnation of Yankee Stadium. The potential irony has some in the community seething.
“Our community loves its parks, and we could always use more,” said Pastor Wenzell Jackson, chairman of Bronx Community Board 4, which includes the stadium and the surrounding area. “Now there's just empty parking garages that are not benefiting the community.”
A spokesman for Bronx Parking declined to comment on its financial situation. Its parent company, Community Initiatives Development Corp., also would not comment.
BUILD A HOTEL
Community leaders, including Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., are planning for what comes next. “We've been working diligently to bring a top-flight hotel to the area near Yankee Stadium,” Mr. Díaz said in his State of the Borough Address late last month. “As many of you have heard, the Yankee Stadium parking lots are facing severe financial problems ... and we believe one of the garages could be used for the hotel development.”
It's clear that not all the garages are needed. In August, Bronx Parking admitted that the facilities, which contain 9,000 parking spaces, were never more than 60% full on game days. As a result, it said, revenues were insufficient to service the more than $237 million in tax-exempt bonds issued to fund its project, which involved building three new garages and refurbishing several existing ones.
The garages have more competition than any party involved anticipated—including the city's Industrial Development Agency, which issued the bonds in 2007.
Last year, Bronx Parking officials complained that an estimated 800 cars a game were parking at the nearby Gateway Shopping Center. And for good reason: Spaces at the center cost about $4 an hour, compared with $23 a game for a self-park space in the stadium garages (or $35 for valet service). This year, rates will increase to $35 a game ($45 for valet), according to the company's 2011 operating budget.
Bronx Parking also blamed its shortfall on Metro-North and its new train station at Yankee Stadium, which the company said is reducing the number of cars—the very purpose for building the station (with public money).
According to Metro-North data, an average of 3,900 attendees use the train to get to weekend games, and 3,200 take the train to games during the week.
Meanwhile, residents have groused that despite the garages, street parking spots are consumed by fans on game days.
TIME TO RECONSIDER
Local leaders said it's all a waste.
“The first step should be to reconsider how they're using these parking lots,” said Lourdes Zapata, senior vice president of SoBro, the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. “Looking at them exclusively for parking is a shortsighted way of looking at development in this area.”
The air rights could be used for other commercial purposes or for building housing, Ms. Zapata said. “At this point, I don't think anything should be off the table,” she remarked.
Crains - March 13, 2011
Yankee Stadium Parking Garage Developer In Desperate Attempt To Avoid Defaulting On Millions In Tax-Exempt Bonds
A Walk In The Park - October 29, 2010
A Walk In The Park - September 10, 2010
A Walk In The Park - June 16, 2010
Field Of Schemes - June 16, 2010 - By Neil deMause