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June 22, 2007

Atlantic Yards gets a deal so sweet it's sick

NY Daily News

Columnist Juan Gonzales spells out Ratner's latest "special" "secret" "sweetheart deal":

How special is it?

Over the weekend, Vito Lopez, the powerful Brooklyn Democrat who heads the state Assembly's Housing Committee, quietly inserted wording tailored for the Ratner project into a new state property tax exemption bill.

How sweet is the deal?

It's worth at least $100 million in real estate tax exemptions and possibly as much as $170 million for the market-rate condos Ratner plans to build on the site, one housing expert estimates. It also allows Atlantic Yards to charge hundreds of dollars more in rent per month for "affordable" units than any other other developer of similar housing.

How secret was the deal?

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) says he did not learn of the provision until the eve of the vote, even though Atlantic Yards is located in his district. Bertha Lewis, the head of NY ACORN, says the same thing. ACORN has been a huge backer and partner of Ratner because of his promise to build 2,200 affordable units out of the proposed total of 6,400. But yesterday even Lewis branded this "special carve-out" for Atlantic Yards "bad public policy."

And that's on top of the enormous amount of subsidy already going Ratner's way:

The new tax exemptions are on top of the $300 million in direct subsidies that city and state officials have already showered on Atlantic Yards.

There's more coming. Ratner has applied for $1.4 billion in stateauthorized tax-exempt bonds to finance his 16 high-rise towers.

Yesterday, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report explained that the special Atlantic Yards legislation would end up costing low-income tenants even more. Brad Lander elaborates in Gonzalez's column:

The special provision, says Brad Lander, director for the Pratt Center for Community Development, will let Ratner charge an average of more than $350 per month in additional rent for the "affordable units" in Atlantic Yards.

Lander also explains that taxpayers also lose, thus shrinking the public benefit:

Depending on the number of units, it could mean from $100 million to $170 million in lost real estate taxes to the city, Lander says.

Gonzalez concludes by pointing out that only Governor Spitzer can intervene.


Atlantic Yards Report, On 421-a: FCR won't comment, ACORN calls it "bad public policy," & Lopez gets cover
Norman Oder posts that Brad Lander's estimates beg some real official number crunching and notes that ACORN director Bertha Lewis's quote in Gonzalez's column marks "ACORN's first public criticism of the developer's machinations."

Posted by lumi at June 22, 2007 8:48 AM