From the NY Post:
The price tag for the MTA's already-way-overbudget Fulton Street Transit Center just went up by another $40 million.
The stalled project, which was supposed to cost $750 million, had already mushroomed to $1.4 billion, and its completion date, once 2007, was recently pushed back until 2014.
Now, a judge has ruled that the MTA must pay $40 million more than the $100 million it had offered to owners of land it seized to build the jinxed project.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub found that the eatery-owning Riese Organization, giant landlord Brookfield Properties and the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church are owed the dough because their properties should be valued as if they belonged to a single owner -- which means a higher price.
The three landlords owned parcels on the east side of Broadway between Fulton and John streets, where the transit center is supposed to rise. The MTA condemned them three years ago and said it should pay the owners what each property was worth individually.
But an "assemblage" owned by a single company is worth more than the sum of its parts because the owner can easily merge the sites' air rights.
At the time the MTA bulldozers moved in, the landowners had not yet agreed on a deal for Riese -- represented by lawyer Warren Estis -- to sell its property to Brookfield and the church, which would have cleared the way for Brookfield to put up an office tower.
Tolub said owners of condemned properties are entitled to a price based on the "highest and best use" of their land, regardless of how it was being used at the time.