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June 29, 2007

City’s Plans for Housing Flop in Albany

The NY Times
By Charles Bagli

The real estate reporter for The Times explains how the Ratner clause contributed to sidetracking a carefully negotiated reform bill:

The bill looked like a shoo-in to pass.

After nearly a year of painstaking analysis and tough negotiations, the Bloomberg administration, the City Council, housing advocates, lenders and real estate developers had hashed out a measure intended to revamp a popular tax-break program so it would generate more relatively affordable housing while restricting subsidies to luxury high-rises like Trump World Tower. It was all done with a minimum of grousing.

Then the bill governing what is known as the 421-a program went to Albany. And suddenly, on the Legislature’s last day in session last week, an amended version passed both houses, extending special tax breaks to the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn and scuttling the city’s efforts to build middle-class housing at Queens West on the East River and other areas. Critics say it could also undermine efforts to build apartments for residents of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

Most are blaming things on State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, but now some fingers are pointing at the Senate version:

But many advocates, city officials and even some Senate Republicans are saying that Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, betrayed the city’s effort. By all accounts, Mr. Spinola, the leading industry lobbyist, played a major role in negotiating the compromises and the tax deals for Atlantic Yards and other developments that led to Senate approval.


But the bill would also provide what the city estimates are an additional $300 million in tax breaks for the vast Atlantic Yards complex being developed by Forest City Ratner Companies, the development partner with The New York Times Company in the Times’ new Midtown headquarters, without getting any additional affordable units in return. Mr. Lopez said it was a concession sought during negotiations with Mr. Spinola and the Senate over his bill.


Atlantic Yards Report, City says "Atlantic Yards carve-out" worth $300 million; will Spitzer veto?
Norman Oder highlights Bagli's reporting that the city claims that the special Atlantic Yards exception will cost the city around $300 million, a figure that's higher than the estimated $100-to-$170 million-dollar figure provided by Brad Lander of the Pratt Center and quoted in last week's Daily News column by Juan Gonzalez.

Posted by lumi at June 29, 2007 11:19 AM