Immediately after winning the MTA vote last week, the Jets held a victory rally at the Terrace Room of the nearby Roosevelt Hotel. On the stage, Jets president Jay Cross made a point of singling out Steven Spinola, the president of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, calling Spinola up to the mic and hailing him as a “great civic leader.”
Cross had good reason to be grateful. As the Times‘ Charles Bagli reported on March 26, Spinola was the crucial player in a three-way deal with the Jets and City Hall to bring together a half-dozen of his members, the city’s biggest developers among them, who would agree to buy unused development rights at the stadium and transfer them to projects elsewhere. All told, the developers pledged to pay up to $440 million for the rights. But critics quickly pointed out there was no firm commitment on the part of the developers, and the MTA declined to take them up on their offer.
Spinola insisted that the developers stepped forward on their own to rescue the Jets’ bid for the MTA-owned West Side rail yards. But Bagli’s story, quoting three of the developers without naming them, said that the decision to pull them together had been made not by the builders but by Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff as part of an effort to undercut a larger bid from rival Cablevision.
Five of the six builders in the Jets deal have already had City Hall dealings. Stephen Ross of the Related Companies has been promised by City Hall valuable Liberty Bonds for two projects; Daniel Brodsky is seeking to develop new residential properties in north Brooklyn thanks to rezoning pushed by Doctoroff; Henry Elghanayan of Rockrose Development has also received Liberty Bonds for two downtown projects; Leonard Litwin of Glenwood Management has also landed bonds for two development sites; and Scott Resnick of Jack Resnick & Sons has been designated to build on a downtown site.