Yonkers officials are moving forward with efforts to remove a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus depot from a valuable 3½-acre piece of real estate on the city’s waterfront.
The parcel of land at 59 Babcock Place, which stretches north of Alexander Street and west of Ravine Avenue on the downtown waterfront, is owned by New York City and leased to the MTA. Yonkers officials say the property is necessary for the city and private developers to complete the city’s master plan for waterfront redevelopment.
“Our message to New York City is very clear: stop taking Yonkers taxpayers for a ride,” Mayor Mike Spano said at a Sept. 28 press conference near the bus lot. “It’s evident to me that Yonkers is subsidizing the ridership of New York City residents. This bus garage serves no purpose, none whatsoever, to Yonkers residents or its visitors.”
The city plans to extend Alexander Street to a portion of the property and open access to in-the-works residential and commercial developments. Officials say the land could also help with infrastructure and parking necessary to complete its master plan.
“It’s the single most valuable stretch of property here in Yonkers,” Spano said of the property, which is used by the MTA to service bus lines in the northern Bronx.
The land is adjacent to Manhattan-based Extell Development Co.’s proposed six-building, 1,395-unit luxury rental apartment complex, which would be on 22 waterfront acres stretching from the former British International Cable Corp. property at 1 Point St. to the Excelsior Packaging plant at 159 Alexander St. The bus depot also is north of a 609-unit apartment complex planned by developer AvalonBay Communities Inc.
The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency held a pair of public hearings during the summer on the possible condemnation of a portion of the bus depot property needed for roadway improvements, which would be the first step to an eventual taking by eminent domain. Yonkers officials say the IDA now has six weeks to determine how it plans to proceed.
“It’s time to give this property back to its rightful owners, and that’s the people of our great city of Yonkers,” Spano said.
Spano said his administration has attempted to negotiate a relocation deal for the facility with the MTA and New York City for years.
“This is a textbook example of David versus Goliath,” he said. “New York City believes it can push its locally undesirable land uses onto its smaller, less powerful neighbor to the north.”
In 2015, Spano sent a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing his frustration with the extended process and his hopes that the situation could be resolved without resorting to the courts. Since that time, Spano said his administration have made a number of attempts to find a new site for the MTA bus depot and held multiple conversations with officials of the deBlasio administration in New York City.
According to Yonkers officials, New York City refused to discuss the relocation of the garage unless Yonkers agreed to pay the city $45 million. New York City in 2005 paid $10.5 million to acquire the property from Liberty Lines Express.
Yonkers officials said a third-party appraisal of the MTA bus garage site valued it at roughly $6 million.
At the press conference, Spano also called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assist in mediating the situation with both New York City and the MTA.
A representative for the MTA directed requests for comment from the Business Journal to New York City. Requests for comment from New York City were not returned.