Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jay St. Station, MTA Bldg. Called Blight on Downtown
by Raanan Geberer (), published online 10-20-2008
Leaders Tell Agency: Rent It, Rehabilitate It or Sell It
By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilman David Yassky, with Borough President Marty Markowitz looking on, told the crowd yesterday that the nearly vacant MTA building at 370 Jay St. probably could be sold for $100 million. Eagle photo by Raanan Geberer
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – If you get off the subway at Jay Street-Borough Hall (A, C and F trains) to come to Downtown Brooklyn, there’s no way you can’t notice the missing tiles, exposed wiring, leaking walls and other signs that the station has seen better days.
And if you happen to get off at one particular entrance – the one that leads up to an open enclosure within the MTA building at 370 Jay St. – there’s no way you can’t notice the empty storefronts, peeling paint, trash, cigarette butts and signs that homeless people frequent the area.
That’s why Downtown Brooklyn business leaders, elected officials and others held a press conference Monday to demand that the MTA clean up both the underground station and the entrance in question, as well as the almost-empty building itself.
The building at 370 Jay St. was once the center of all activities for the city’s subway and bus system. Then, the MTA opened a new building on Boerum Place, and in 1998 it leased office space at 2 Broadway, Lower Manhattan.
The 370 Jay St. building has been “shrouded in a sidewalk shed,” in the words of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Joe Chan, for at least 10 years. Currently, says MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan, it houses only about 100 employees.
As for the station, it received a grade of “F” from the Transit Riders Council in the categories of odor, leaking ceiling, cleanliness of ceilings and leaking walls. It received a grade of “C” for lighting, cleanliness of floors, cleanliness of walls and litter.
Sell the Building, They Say
Borough President Marty Markowitz pointed out that “the MTA has budgeted $150 million toward renovating the building for its back offices, but says it won’t be fully occupied until 2016.” The building, he said, could be leased to attract corporate, retail or nonprofit tenants – or sold for at least $75 million.
“Let the building go,” Markowitz said, addressing the MTA. “Let 370 Jay St. go.”
Michael Nill, head of the Brooklyn Friends School, and Michael Gold of Sid’s Hardware both said that the building was never in very good condition to begin with, and got worse after the MTA started moving employees out of it. “I hear plenty of comments,” said Gold. “They complain about garbage, homeless people, disrepair.”
Chan of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said that not only is the building vacant and in disrepair, MTA vehicles block the street off, so that bus passengers must walk into the street to catch buses. “The blighted condition of the Jay Street block and the subway station below contradicts and undermines the economic growth happening in the area and serves as a discouragement for additional investment.”
Assemblywoman Joan Millman recalled how three or four years ago, she and Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign took a tour of the facility and the station, “and we were able to peel the paint off the ceiling.”
Sam Ibrahim, general manager of the nearby New York Marriott Hotel of the Brooklyn Bridge, added that many of his clientele are foreign tourists, and that the station and entranceway are the first impression they see of Downtown Brooklyn. Some are scared to go into the subway there, especially at night, because of poor lighting, and the blighted condition may serve as a reason for some to stay in Manhattan instead the next time they come to the city.
In response, Donovan of the MTA said, “The MTA remains committed to renovating 370 Jay St. to house our shared services initiative and many other employees currently housed in leased office space. We expect to fund the renovation in the capital plan that begins in 2010, with initial occupancy in 2011.”
Regarding the station itself, he said, “MTA New York City Transit is investing $106 million to rehabilitate the Jay Street station and to construct a transfer station between the Jay and Lawrence street stations with ADA elevators.”
© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008