The MTA has finally broken its silence in a monthlong standoff over the rent at Grand Central Terminal — and retail tenants don’t like what they’re hearing.
In a letter this week to shop owners and restaurateurs at the landmark Manhattan train station, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it was temporarily deferring rent collections for the month of April and “until the last day of the month in which MTA determines that normal business operations can resume.”
The state-owned agency added, however, that “payment of such deferred amounts will be required” — despite previous complaints that a lockdown ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it impossible for shops and restaurants to operate and make money.
“A payment plan for any deferred amounts will be determined once normal business operations resume,” David Florio, the MTA’s director of real estate transactions and operations, wrote in the Wednesday letter obtained by The Post.
Grand Central Terminal tenants — which on April 2 had banded together to protest the state agency’s demand for April rent, even as Gov. Cuomo ordered a retail lockdown — were less enthusiastic about the MTA’s offer this week.
“It’s a good first step to kick the can down the road,” said Chris Taylor, who owns Li-lac Chocolates in the terminal’s food market. “But I’ll still need a cash injection” to pay the rent in the future, he said.
Li-Lac’s sales have fallen off a cliff, but Taylor is asking his full-time factory employees this week to return to work after scoring a government Paycheck Protection Program loan, Taylor said.
Grand Central’s retailers also enlisted the help of local politicians including New York Sen. Brad Hoylman, whose district includes Grand Central.
Meanwhile, The Good Witch, a coffee shop at a Metro North station in Hastings, NY, got an offer on Wednesday for rent “abatements” — which typically wouldn’t require repayment — for April and May until further notice, according to the shop’s Instagram account.
“Thank you for your compassion for small business tenants, MTA!” The Good Witch posted on Thursday.
The MTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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