A secretive hedge fund that has become the biggest owner of New York City taxi medallion loans is showing signs that it may come to the table for an emergency deal to save the city’s cash-strapped cabbies, city officials say.
Marblegate Asset Management — a Greenwich, Conn.-based fund that owns roughly 4,300 taxi medallions and loans — said Wednesday it has extended a payment holiday for borrowers by another 30 days as yellow cab ridership remains down by nearly 90 percent because of the COVID-19 shutdown.
The reprieve comes as the city council appears to be moving forward on a new plan called the Medallion Asset Relief Program, which is being introduced into the city budget this week as taxicab drivers citywide face mounting bankruptcies and a rash of suicides.
As reported by The Post, MARP would revalue all New York City taxi medallions at $250,000, substantially lowering the monthly payments that have bankrupted drivers. The city would act as a guarantor on the new loan sizes, meaning it would be on the hook for any drivers who can’t pay the lower rate.
Multiple sources close to the plan tell The Post that MARP has received early support from Council Speaker Corey Johnson. But since the city lacks the legal or regulatory authority, Marblegate and other lenders would have to agree to the new terms.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who created the MARP legislation with the co-founders of mobile solutions app Wapanda, made it clear that his early misgivings about dealing with a $1.7 billion hedge fund have been assuaged by Marblegate’s behavior and attitude.
“Marblegate has proven to be receptive and fair,” said Torres. ”The decision to extend the payment schedule is a welcomed one.”
It’s the latest sign of cooperation from the $1.7 billion Marblegate fund, which has kept a low profile since it scooped up more than a quarter of the city’s taxi medallions in a series of deals over the past year. As New York City began a lockdown in March, Marblegate on March 13 pushed back the due date on medallion payments for 30 days. It did so again in mid-April.
Some taxi driver advocates, however, are less sanguine about both Marblegate’s decision and MARP. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is pushing for all medallion debt to be capped at $150,000, arguing that $250,000 will still be too much for many cabbies to shoulder, especially older ones.
“Some lenders have already pushed back their deadlines by six months,” said Bhairavi Desai, founding member of the cabbie group.
A spokesman for Marblegate declined to comment.
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