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The MTA has apparently narrowed down the list of contenders to develop the West Side Rail Yards - and may even ask them to team up together. According to Crain's New York, the MTA favors the developers who have already lined up tenants. Which means the front runners are The Related Companies with News Corporation and Goldman Sachs, Durst & Vornado with Conde Nast, and Tishman-Speyer with Morgan Stanley. But front runners may need to be partners as well!

Insiders say the MTA wants the "three to join forces so it can keep all the tenants and avoid disappointing any of the politically connected developers." That's called having one's cake and eating it too!

However, it's unclear whether the big egos of the principals can work together. From Crain's:

Not possible, insist others. Forging partnerships would be overwhelmingly complicated by the conflicting concepts and designs for the site. For example, Related views the site as a media industry center, anchored by its tenant News Corp. Meanwhile, Tishman Speyer/Morgan Stanley says that the area is perfect for constructing the large buildings with megatrading floors desired by financial firms. Morgan Stanley plans to erect its headquarters at the location.

The Durst/Vornado venture has Conde Nast Publications as a tenant, so a partnership with Related might make sense. But some real estate executives worry that if Related or the Durst/Vornado partnership wins the Hudson Yards bid, there's a risk of one or two developers having too much control of an area. Vornado and Related are already partners in developing Moynihan Station nearby. Others counter that such a scenario would give the neighborhood more cohesion.

Not only that, but some don't like the idea of the development being branded by specific brands (like News Corp.'s MySpace and Fox movies brands) and the three developers have arying ideas of how to incorporate the High Line, park space, and residential housing. In other words, people's heads will spin many times before anything is resolved.

The irony might be that the two remaining plans from Extell and Brookfield Properties are the ones that have earned praise - Extell for its public space and Brookfield for breaking the superblock and restoring streets.