Geez, the MTA is just having bad luck with its latest round of leases at Grand Central. First Shake Shack has trouble moving in because Zocalo won't move out and now State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office has released an audit saying that the Authority gave Apple an unfair edge when it let the company secure a sweet lease in the iconic building last year.
The New York Post reports that DiNapoli has a new audit (which does not appear to be online yet) blasting the Authority: "The competitive process followed by MTA...was at a minimum severely slanted toward Apple," it reportedly says. Apparently the "MTA last May allowed the California-based tech giant to set a daunting hurdle for rival bidders to clear in a tight, 30-day window — namely, that they be willing to front $5 million in cash." Further,
DiNapoli’s report notes that Apple had been in private talks with the MTA for more than two years leading up to the bidding process.
In a saucy move that was rejected by the MTA, Apple even tried to get reimbursed by taxpayers for the initial $2 million it had paid the restaurant Metrazur to vacate the balcony atop the historic commuter hub, the report found — a deal that ultimately was worth $5 million.
The MTA, however, does not agree: "This audit is not fact-based, and, accordingly, their opinion is worthless," MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said in a statement. And anyway, Apple is already paying $1.1 million in rent this year—four times what Metrazur, the restaurant that was in the space, would have been paying. And it will be paying more in the future.
Another reason we just can't get too worked up over Apple getting an edge on a still VERY expensive lease? The presence of the store in Grand Central has so far been good for everybody's business in the complex—even the restaurants.