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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

November 15, 2002

New York Times Occupying Peoples' Land

The New York Times is always very quick to harshly condemn Israel for "occupying" others' land and building 'settlements' but it seems when it comes to its own interests, these type of actions are fine. The NYT wants a new headquarters. Instead of buying a piece or property to build a new building, it is having New York condemn a block of buildings so it can build its new settlement on the cheap.

From the Village Voice article:
Sidney Orbach, who owns a 16-story office building on the site with two of his brothers, pointed to the selling price last year of a lot across the street on Eighth Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets. It's half the size of the property the Times covets, but developer Paul Milstein's family bought it at auction for $111 million.

Real estate experts usually judge property values in terms of the cost per square foot of usable space permitted to be built on the site. The Milstein deal works out to $180 per square foot compared to $62.50 for the Times deal, he said.

The Times replied that the other deals were priced at the time the owners took title to the land, while the price of the Times deal factors in the risk the company faces in getting possession.

W. Tod McGrath, a professor of real estate finance at the M.I.T. Center for Real Estate, said that even when the developers' risks, demolition costs, and such amenities as a subway improvement were considered, they were getting "at least a 25 percent discount" on the property.

McGrath said a recent appraisal found costs "in that part of town" to be between $100 and $140 per square foot, compared to $62.50 for the Times deal.

A lot of the business that will be forced to move have been in their locations longer then the palestinians have even been in existence as a people:
"It's pretty horrible the whole way this was done," Scot Cohen of B&J Fabrics laments. He sits beside a functional, 77-year-old cash register his grandfather bought when he started this family business in 1940. "I think it's quite unfair that the mighty and the powerful get to push people like myself around, and that the state can just kind of come over and basically take things away from people. It doesn't seem fair, especially in a democracy."