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Clearly, the new kind of excitement and titillation in New York City is not downtown or in some underground sex trade - it's at MTA railyard auctions! The Extell Development Company made a surprise bid for the Atlantic Rail Yards where Bruce Ratner wants to build a Frank Gehry-designed Nets arena and skyscraper complex. Extell's bid promises to be a much smaller development: Skyscrapers would be 28 floors, versus the possible 60 floors in Ratner's plan; housing would be for 4,800 people, versus Ratner's housing for a projected 18,000; and there is room for a school, but no sports complex. And this bid doesn't require $200 million in state and city subsidies and would be completed in 2009, two years before the Ratner plan. Extell got involved when community groups opposed to Ratner's plans approached them and the Post notes that the firm is "positioning itself as a community-friendly alternative to Ratner, claiming its bid would not require the seizure of any private real estate, as Ratner's would." That is as community friendly as you can get: "We're not forcing you out of your homes." Neither Extell nor Ratner's Forest City Ratner group will reveal how much their bids were for. Let's say the Extell bid proves successful; what about all the buildings Ratner has purchased in the area? Would Extell need to buy them from him? MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow - you're in the catbird seat once again.

Extell's president Gary Barnett has clashed with Ratner before: He sued the NY Times over land Extell owned at 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets - where Ratner is building the new NY Times building. Extell, with The Carlyle Group, purchased a $1.7 billion piece of West Side land from Donald Trump's group last month.