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[IMGCAP(1)]NEW YORK CITY-Although rumors had quickly spread over the past few days that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was poised to award Tishman Speyer Properties LP with the chance to develop the 26-acres constituting the Hudson Rail Yards here, the city has made it official. Although some final details still need to be ironed out, the MTA board did approve the firm’s just over $1-billion bid in a board meeting Wednesday, allowing the firm to transform the site into a mixed-use area including hotels, apartment buildings, parks, green areas and office towers as tall as 70 stories.

[IMGCAP(2)]The city held a conference just after 3 p.m. on 33rd between 10th and 11th avenues on the Eastern Yards to detail the MTA’s decision. Tishman Speyer, a developer that owns Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, edged out what started as five developers, who all began the bidding war last fall for the land, which is the last largest undeveloped part of Midtown Manhattan. Last month, Brookfield Properties dropped out of the race. Tishman’s closest rival–a JV of the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust–had Conde Nast Publications signed on as an anchor tenant. Other firms in the running were Extell Development Co., and the Related Cos.

[IMGCAP(3)]“We are in a recession and it has had a great impact on New York City,” began Gov. David Paterson during the press conference. “It has had a great impact and yet we are still launching a project, which shows optimism in the city’s future.” The MTA owns the land and will use the money to fund operations and capital expenses–including an extension of the nearby No. 7 subway line, which began construction in December.

[IMGCAP(4)]Tishman Speyer‘s plan, designed by Helmut Jahn and landscape architect Peter Walker, includes four office buildings–totaling roughly eight million sf–as well as rental and condominium apartments, with 400 units set aside for low- and moderate-income individuals, Paterson noted, and 13 acres of public open space. Tishman Speyer will also aim at achieving LEED Gold certification for the entire project.

[IMGCAP(5)]Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the conference that even during the current economic slowdown, New York City’s long-term prospects are very bright if the city comes together and makes decisions to “ensure our future now. We have done that today,” he said.

MTA chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger said during that conference that “the board’s top priority was fulfilling our responsibility to fund the capital program, which we achieved beyond our expectations. I am thrilled that we were also able to address community concerns and look forward to a continuing dialogue with West Side residents.”

[IMGCAP(6)]Rob Speyer, president of Tishman Speyer, addressed the audience–after a tiring few days, he explained–expressing a humble “thank you” to the MTA for its decision. “We are thrilled and honored with the outcome.” He further noted that he was inspired by his contenders and “learned something from each proposal.”

GlobeSt.com spoke with Real Capital Analytics’ Dan Fasulo to gauge if the MTA’s decision came as a shock. “With ongoing turmoil in the debt markets affecting new development nationwide it is not surprising that the MTA chose Tishman, a firm with significant financial muscle and vast experience with projects of this scale.”

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