Investigation into Apple deal at Grand Central

December 1, 2011 8:10:16 PM PST
The agreement between the MTA and its tenant-to-be is now the focus of at least one state investigation and is drawing concern one week before Apple opens its new store.

"If this isn't the opportunity of a lifetime I don't know what is," Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said.

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has sharp criticism aimed at what will be Apple computer's newest store located on the east balcony of Grand Central Terminal, now veiled until its grand opening next week.

The MTA says Apple will not be making revenue-sharing payments as do other stores, and its rent is said to be a rate considerably less than other tenants.

"They will not, according to reports, they will not be paying the $200 a square foot that other retailers in Grand Central will be charged," Rosenthal said.

The MTA responded with a statement saying, "This is the best possible deal for the MTA, quadrupling the rent we receive and bringing foot traffic to Grand Central Terminal that will increase revenue from all of our retailers."

Apple will pay, according to the MTA, $180 a square foot over the 10-year lease and is paying more than $2.5 million in infrastructure improvements.

The MTA believes no other uses for this space would generate the same revenue.

Still, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is closely examining the contract, calling it "a cause for concern".

He added, "This is a prime property and I intend to make sure that the MTA hasn't given away the store."

Some commuters can't help but wonder the same thing.

Assemblywoman Rosenthal who sits on the Committee on Corporations and Public Authorities is also calling for an investigation.

"At a time when the MTA is cutting service, rolling back the maintenance of its subway stations and worst of all predicting a new fare hike, it is outrageous that they did not make the most of this opportunity," Rosenthal said.

The MTA disputes the reported figures and goes on to say they look forward to explaining the details of this competitive bid transaction.