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ESD Sells Times Sq Marriott Marquis for Mere $20 Million

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Earlier this week, the state-owned Empire State Development Corporation inked the sale of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to lease-holders Host Hotels & Resorts for the absurdly low price of $19.9 million, according to The Real Deal.

Host has leased the property since 1982, when it entered a deal with both the ESDC and the city for the premises at 1535 Broadway between 45th and 46th streets. According to the agreement, Host would pay $34 million for the hotel, transfer title back to the city, and then pay annual rent for 75 years. However, in 1998, the deal was renegotiated, shortening the lease and allowing Host to purchase the property for a set $19.9 million by 2013.

Earlier this year, a city audit of the 58-story, 1.8 million-square-foot hotel determined that it was at worth at least $200 million, but a Host spokesman claims that the low price is offset by the jobs it created and the millions in tax revenue it raised. Comptroller John Liu, on the other hand, is calling it "one of the worst deals since Manhattan was sold for $24."

"If these reports are accurate, it is no surprise that anyone would want to snap up that prestigious New York City property for such a relative pittance, and just in time for Christmas," he said. "But this corporate giveaway was a horrendous deal for City taxpayers that could have and should have been renegotiated."
· "Times Square Marriott Marquis sold in controversial $20M deal" [TRD]