The Curse of the Courtesy Sandwich Shop (Take 2)

Remember our comments about the outrageous and uncompensated destruction of the Courtesy Sandwich Shop in lower Manhattan to make room for the World Trade Center of blessed memory? Of course you do. But if not, go to our post Curse of the Courtesy Sandwich Shop, August 10, 2009. It’s all there.

That was the story of how the New York & New Jersey Port Authority took by eminent domain some 13+ blocks of commercial land for the site of the World Trade Center, and in the process destroyed the business of the Courtesy Sandwich Shop without compensation. The justification was that the new WTC would be a “public use” because it would be devoted to use by government offices and enterprises devoted to foreign trade. As it turned out, all that was false. Government entities and businesses of that sort could not begin to fill those two huge, 100-plus story towers, and the dumping of all that newly available office rental space on the Manhattan market proved to be an economic disaster from which it took the city years to recover. So in time, the WTC became just another honkin’ big New York high rise skyscraper renting space to all comers like any other landlord.

Now, some ten years after 9/11, they are still building a new state-of-the-art train station, and a replacement building (known as 1 World Trade Center) on that site,  with a projected cost of $11 billion instead of the originally estimated $3.3 billion. Predictably, there isn’t that kind of money around, so the Port Authority (contrary to its earlier representations) proposes to raise tolls on the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, so that Joe Commuter who goes to work by car will have to pony up $62.50 per week. Click here.

But the supporters of the project claim that things are looking up and that the publishing giant Conde Nast has agreed to be the anchor tenant. Sounds good, eh? Not really. The Times discloses that to entice Conde Nast to make that move, the city is going to charge it rent that is less than half the break-even cost of the 0ne-million square feet it will occupy.  How $weet it is.

And this is nothing new in New York. For a fuller list of similarly humongous handouts to favored, large  New York businesses, see 4 Albany Governmewnt Law Review 38, at pp. 64-65, footnote 109. That list includes the New York Times, CBS, Reuters, NBC, ABC, McGraw Hill, Viacom, and Hearst, as well as finacial giants like Goldman Sachs ($850 million), JPMorgan Chase ($240 million), A.I.G., Credit Suisse, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citicorp, and Morgan Stanley. The source of this information is Jim Dwyer, Companies We Keep, and Pay For, N.Y. Times, May 16, 2010, at p. MB1.

Yor tax money at work, New Yorkers.