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State Audit: MTA Gave Apple Unfair Edge for Grand Central Shop

State Audit: MTA Gave Apple Unfair Edge for Grand Central Shop

The New York Post reports today that The Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave Apple an “unfair edge” last year in the bidding for the prime retail perch in Grand Central Terminal that the Cupertino giant’s retail store now occupies.

The New York Post:

A fresh audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says 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.

“The competitive process followed by MTA . . . was at a minimum severely slanted toward Apple,” reads the report, submitted to MTA officials Friday and expected to be made public today.

The report says that Apple had been in private talks with the MTA for a two year period leading up to the bidding process.

The report says Apple had attempted to get reimbursed by taxpayers for the $2 million it had paid a restaurant, “Metrazur” to vacate the balcony atop the historic commuter hub, a deal that ultimately was worth $5 million

Apple’s popular store in the terminal has been packed with commuters and tourist since it opened last December. The store is expected to rake in hundreds of millions in revenue annually.

MTA officials blasted the report, accusing DiNapoli’s office of “overt bias against the MTA and Apple.”

“This audit is not fact-based, and, accordingly, their opinion is worthless,” MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota said in a statement.

“The MTA’s lease process with Apple was open, transparent and followed both the spirit and letter of the law.”

MTA officials say Apple is paying $1.1 million in rent this year, four times the rent Metrazur was paying.

Apple was able to obtain the space for its store without agreeing to share a percentage of its sales with the MTA. The only retailer in the terminal to secure such a deal.

While real estate experts say that will cost the MTA tens of millions of dollars revenue annually, the MTA counters that the extra traffic brought into the terminal by the Apple Store will boost the revenue of other outlets in the terminal, thus bringing in more cash from the revenue sharing deals they have with those tenants.