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Two Parking Lots by Yankee Stadium Could Become Housing, Stores or Hotel

By Patrick Wall | July 15, 2013 9:06am
 The company that runs the parking system around Yankee Stadium wants to redevelop two lots.
Yankee Stadium Parking Lots
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CONCOURSE — The cash-strapped company that runs the Yankee Stadium parking system wants to raise revenue by subleasing two under-used parking lots to a developer, who could build stores, housing or even a hotel on the site just south of the stadium, officials said.

With Yankees game attendance in a slump and many fans taking mass transit or finding cheaper places to park, the system of lots and garages around the stadium has struggled to attract customers — its average occupancy rate is 33 percent so far this year, securities filings show.

As a result, Bronx Parking Development Company, the tax-exempt nonprofit that operates the system and is not connected to the Yankees, failed to make a nearly $7 million payment in April to the private investors who hold about $240 million in municipal bonds, which the company issued to fund the parking system’s construction.

Bronx Parking has also neglected to pay millions of dollars in rent to the city, which owns the land used by the parking system, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office.

The company put out a request for redevelopment proposals for the pair of adjacent lots on either side of 151st Street between River and Gerard avenues this spring. The proposals were due June 5.

The parking lots currently bring in little revenue — less than 60 vehicles fill the larger south lot’s 176 spaces on an average game day, garnering an average of $1,433 per game, filings show.

An earlier effort to construct affordable housing and stores on the site fell through last year when the city’s Economic Development Corporation, acting on Bronx Parking’s behalf, ended negotiations with a developer.

Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Development Corp. and a member of Bronx Parking’s board, said the company decided to issue its own request this year without EDC’s involvement and to expand the types of site uses it would allow.

Those could include mixed-income housing, shops, restaurants or even a boutique hotel, Cintron suggested, adding that a small hotel would not interfere with her office’s desire to turn a nearby parking garage into a large hotel and conference center.

“The possibilities are endless,” she said. “We can be flexible.”

She added that the site’s value has increased in recent years with the opening of Gateway Mall, which sits across the street from the lots, and a nearby Metro-North train station — both of which have siphoned off customers from the parking system.

Cintron declined to say how many developers submitted proposals, but Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said he thought about five had.

The request directed developers to send their proposals to Edward Moran, Bronx Parking’s chief restructuring officer. He did not respond to an email sent Friday.

The parking system was created leading up to the opening of the new Yankee Stadium in 2009 using the tax-exempt municipal bonds as well as $109 million in state and city subsidies.

It contains nearly 9,300 spaces — including 600 solely for the Yankees’ use — which is more than was available for the old stadium, even though the new stadium seats about 6,600 fewer fans, according to Doug Turetsky, the IBO’s chief of staff, who posted a blog entry about the redevelopment plan last week.

Turetsky said the team demanded the expanded parking system from the city when they were in negotiations over the new stadium.

He also noted that only Bronx Parking, not the city, is not responsible for repaying the bondholders.

But the city “may still lose on the deal,” he wrote, because Bronx Parking has never paid the city the $3.2 million in rent it owes each year or required payments in lieu of taxes.

“Year in year out, we’re hearing about several million dollar cuts to this or that program,” Turetsky said in an interview. “The amount of money we’re not receiving here could cover some of these programs that are on the chopping block.”

Meanwhile, Bronx Parking and the bondholders entered into a forbearance agreement in May, after the company defaulted on the bond payment.

It is working to get the investors to agree to a bond restructuring, which would lower the company’s debt payments but trigger losses for the bondholders.

The company needs the bond restructuring in order to stay afloat, Moran, the Bronx Parking official, wrote in a notice filed last year with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

“Unless debt service costs are lowered through a voluntary restructuring,” he wrote, “bankruptcy will eventually be BPDC's only available option.”