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Watch Video of the Venture Execs Talking Moynihan

At a recent Conde Naste Portfolio conference Steve Roth, chairman of Vornado, and Steve Ross, chairman of Related – the Moynihan Venture tag team – spoke about the Moynihan Station project.

Read “Vornado’s Roth on MSG Air Rights: ‘Come to Mama’”

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Vornado's Roth on MSG Air Rights: “Come to Mama”

After a few quiet weeks in the world of Moynihan, the Farley Post Office emerged unscathed from a two-alarm fire on Tuesday night and Steve Roth, chairman of Vornado, and Steve Ross, chairman of Related – the Moynihan Venture tag team – spoke about the project at a real estate breakfast this morning in New York. The Venture's latest scheme is to get the Port Authority to buy the Garden from the Dolans and liberate the coveted air rights on the arena site. Eliot Brown of the Observer has this report:

In case there was any doubt, Steve Roth and Steve Ross really want Madison Square Garden to move.
This morning, some 13 weeks after Madison Square Garden announced it was renovating and staying in place (i.e. not moving), the developer duo professed, once again, their eagerness to see the Paterson administration pick up the ball and move forward with the large-scale Moynihan Station plan. The plan, in its most recent iteration, would involve the state using Port Authority money intended for regional transportation projects to buy the Garden and its air rights from the Dolan family—that is, if they’re willing to sell (the Dolans have expressed no interest and are moving forward with the renovation).

Mr. Ross is the chairman of the Related Companies and Mr. Roth is chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, the two designated developers in the project that would redo Pennsylvania Station.

Why not let the dream die? The air rights that would be unleashed from the Garden moving, as Mr. Roth reminded the crowd at the Portfolio real estate breakfast at the Four Seasons Pool Room, are of great value.

“Since Vornado owns all the property around it, and half the air rights above Madison Square Garden, obviously, it’s ‘Come to mama,’” he said.

Some other tidbits from the breakfast:

• Mr. Roth was candid as to why he wants the Garden to move to Farley: It’s the only other place they’ll consider besides their current site, he said. “We don’t care if they move to Iowa. ... They can move as far west as they want.”

• Apparently the plan to move the Garden to the rear of the Farley building was the brainchild of Mr. Ross, at least according to Mr. Roth.

• Mr. Ross likes the Port Authority for reasons other than just its money. As he put it, “If the Port Authority does it, there isn’t any additional approvals, and you don’t have to go to the state or Shelly [Silver, the Assembly speaker] to get approvals to make it happen, so I believe that the governor will see it that way.”

• Mr. Ross and Mr. Roth seemed to differ some in how strongly they feel about pushing the larger plan. Mr. Ross said he was optimistic that the whole thing would come together, (rating its chances 8 out of 10). Mr. Roth has previously trumped a scaled-down “Plan B,” though talk of that was absent today (at the end of the discussion on Moynihan, Mr. Roth put the chances of everything coming together at 7.5 out of 10 … though he also added later that the reason the two were so optimistic was there was a tenant in the room, looking squarely at S.I. Newhouse, whose Condé Nast is on the hunt for a new office tower.

Read “For Moynihan, Two Steves Still Want MSG to ‘Come to Mama,’” by Eliot Brown for New York Observer

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Observer: Developers Want Port Authority to Buy MSG Block

Eliot Brown has the news on the latest proposal from the Venture to lure MSG back to the negotiating table:

According to multiple people familiar with discussions, the joint venture of the Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust wants the Port Authority to come in and buy the current Madison Square Garden, along with its hotly desired air rights, a task that would cost somewhere between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. The developers have told officials that this purchase by the public sector, which would be effectively paid back by the developers should the entire project come together, is necessary to right the troubled large-scale plan. By the public sector taking a risk that the developers apparently find too risky and/or expensive—in the failed plan, billions in funding and numerous agreements for the entire project were needed before the Garden could get a new arena—the developers seem to be reasoning that the Garden would be given enough certainty to be lured back to the table.

Of course, there are many steps before that plan becomes anything more than a concept, as the bistate Port Authority would first need to be convinced that spending nearly $2 billion of highly sought money meant for regional transportation is a worthy investment, one that would come before actually rebuilding a train station. And then even if the Port Authority got behind the plan, it would still require the consent of the Garden.

The Garden has made no signs that it will deviate from its renovation plan, and a Garden spokesman, Barry Watkins, was unequivocal about the company’s intention to renovate.

“We have been and continue to be moving full steam ahead on the renovation of Madison Square Garden,” he said.
The new plan also would require Governor Paterson’s putting the Port Authority in charge of the Moynihan Station project, a step he said earlier this month he would likely take, but has yet to execute. Mayor Bloomberg has publicly criticized the concept of giving the Port Authority control, as has Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the local representative, and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chairman of the Assembly committee that oversees authorities.

Governor Paterson has set an internal deadline of the end of June for the state to craft a path forward, according to people familiar with talks.

Read “The Accidental Ingenuity of James Dolan,” by Eliot Brown for The New York Observer

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Observer: Venture Wants to Give Govt-Backed Loan to MSG

Eliot Brown reports that Related and Vornado (the Venture) have asked the city and state to back a loan to build a new MSG in the annex of the Farley Post Office.

In this option, the state and city could be saddled with the cost of the arena—said to be in the range of $900 million to $1 billion—should the larger redo of Penn Station ultimately fall apart.

The plan for a Penn Station remake, part of a larger proposal named Moynihan Station, seemed to all but fall apart when Madison Square Garden said it was staying in place and proceeding with a $500 million renovation of its arena. Without moving, a complete redo of the station was all but impossible. The Garden said it pulled out because it did not see any realistic hope of the plan coming together any time soon, given the hundreds of millions in unsecured funding.

Under the developers’ latest proposal, the developers could potentially start building the new arena for the Garden before the larger Moynihan plan ever came together, as the state and city would assume the risk on the money for the arena. Previously, the developers wanted to wait until the project came together before proceeding with the arena, as it would cost them hundreds of millions with potentially no gain should the deal have ultimately fallen apart.

A spokesman for Madison Square Garden, Barry Watkins, said the Garden was proceeding with its renovation and had no plans to move.

Read “Vornado, Related Try to Lure Garden Back to Moynihan Station Table,” by Eliot Brown in the Observer


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