Diamond From the Rough
On Oct. 7, the City Council passed the first of two laws that would allow business improvement districts to take joint custody of properties that fall within the boundaries of more than one BID.
Together, the bills will end what has essentially been a three-year, amicable custody battle between the Times Square Alliance and the Bryant Park Management Corporation for management of the Durst Organization’s midtown gem, the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park.
It took Durst more than 40 years to cobble together the 32 different parcels on 42nd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue. When the lots were combined in 2004, the new site included ground located in both BIDs, though certain lots did not fall into either.
“We knew it would be split between two bids, but we didn’t know how that would work,” Douglas Durst, co-president of the Durst Organization, told The Commercial Observer. “It was a very torturous process to get it all worked out. It should have been simple.”
Durst agreed to pay half of its annual $300,000 assessment to Bryant Park and half to the Times Square Alliance. In 2007, One Bryant Park became the 25th property under the management of the Bryant Park BID, and generates $150,000 of the BID’s gross annual revenue. The City Council is currently reviewing the Times Square Alliance’s amended district plans and will vote on them in the next few weeks. Once the plans are approved, the BID will also earn an additional $150,000 annually.
“It’s unusual because most buildings are not split between two BIDs, but it was agreed that the building decided to support both the Bryant Park Management Corporation and Times Square Alliance,” Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Management Corp., said. “Bryant Park’s paperwork and approvals went through one and a half years ago, but Times Square’s is just going through now. So [Durst] has already been supporting Bryant Park for the last year or two, to the tune of about $150,000.”
The agreement is the best of both worlds for the landlord. “There are benefits to being in both BIDs,” said Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz. “The Times Square Alliance has security patrollers within their BID and Bryant Park does not. So by being partially within Times Square, we get the benefit of their security.”
THE BATTLE OF THE BIDs could be the last chapter of the Dursts’ development within the Times Square area. The organization, then led by the late Seymour Durst and his brothers, first shifted its attention west in the 1960s after helping pioneer development along Third Avenue. “We felt that while the East Side remains prestigious, it will do no more than get older,” Seymour Durst told The New York Times in a 1969 profile. “There are only about 10 or a dozen office building sites left from the East River to Sixth Avenue. When those are filled, new building will be very spasmodic. So we’ve exchanged our sites, mostly on Third Avenue, for West Side sites. I used to say Fifth Avenue is too far west. Now I say Fifth Avenue is too far east.”