Comptroller Frowns On MTA Deal With Apple Store At Grand Central

Jul 31, 2012

A New York state Comptroller's office report has found that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gave Apple an unfair advantage to place a retail store in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

The store opened in Grand Central in December, and is one of the world’s largest Apple stores.  The comptroller’s report says the MTA started talking to Apple about the space more than two years before opening it up for bidding. It says the “competitive process followed by MTA …was at a minimum severely slanted toward Apple.”

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office points out that a prior audit revealed problems with how the MTA managed and leased out its vast real estate portfolio.  

DiNapoli is recommending a statutory change to increase oversight of public authority contracts exceeding one million dollars. Current law dictates that only contracts over one million dollars that are non-competitive or funded with state dollars can be reviewed by the State Comptroller's office. DiNapoli's proposed change would make ALL contracts over one million dollars eligible for review.

MTA Spokesman Adam Lisberg says the report is flawed: he insists the lease process was open and transparent, and that the Comptroller is calling for something the MTA already does.   Because the MTA lease to Apple was purportedly a competitive process, it was not eligible for the Comptroller's review before it was finalized.

Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.