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Carter's View

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that he was disappointed that the Tishman Speyer negotiation with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the development of its West Side rail yards had ended with the developer withdrawing its bid, but he maintained that the site "represents one of New York City's best opportunities."

According to an article by Charles V. Bagli in today's edition of The New York Times, the MTA "quickly reopened talks" with four other developers - Douglas Durst, Extell Development Company, Stephen M. Ross and Steven Roth - who had also bid for the rights" to build millions of square feet of commercial space and thousands of apartments on the 26-acre site.

Mr. Ross is the head of Related Companies and Mr. Roth is the head of Vornado Realty Trust.

Mr. Durst is the head of The Durst Organization, which had submitted a bid jointly with Vornado. The other ventures that had submitted bids were Extell Development and Brookfield Properties.

All of the submitted bids called for the erection of a platform to permit the continued use of the yards except for the one submitted by Extell that called for a suspended level over the yards.

In the first round of bids submitted in October, the top bid of $1.049 billion was submitted by Related, followed by $1.015 billion submitted by Durst/Vornado, $908 million submitted by Brookfield, $819 million submitted by Tishman Speyer, and $598 million submitted by Extell.

A second round of bidding was requested in February. Brookfield Properties did not submit a bid but indicated it could be involved as a co-developer, and Related submitted a bid only for the western half of the yards but not the eastern half.

Extell submitted the highest bid in the second round: $1.15 billion. However, it did not agree to pay sales tax and that refusal led to its elimination in the bidding process. Related's second round bid was $943 million, Tishman Speyer's was $897 million and Durst/Vornado's was $842 million.

The MTA then asked for more bids from the two remaining ventures and Tishman Speyer offered $1.004 billion and Durst/Vornado $892 million. Durst/Vornado subsequently upped its bid but it still fell short of Tishman Speyer's.

Mr. Bagli's article quoted a spokesman for Mr. Durst as stating that his company "would be interested in resuming discussions" and an article by Eliot Brown in the on-line edition today of The New York Observer said that "Extell is in for another go at the yards, said a company spokesman."

The Extell plan, shown at the right, was designed by Steven Holl and it was highlighted by a three-legged skyscraper capped with a very large, angled observatory, several residential towers with "sun-slice" tops, and a large low-rise building that could be used for conventions.

The Durst/Vornado plan was designed by FXFowle and Pelli Clarke Pelli.

The Related plan was designed by Robert A. M. Stern, Kohn Pederson Fox and Arquitectonica.

The Tishman Speyer plan had been designed by Helmut Jahn.

The MTA issued a press release yesterday that said it has "now re-entered discussions with other interested developers and remains committed to timely development of these unique and valuable parcels of land on Manhattan's Far West Side."
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.