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July 23, 2007

RATNER'S PLAN HITS BIG $NAG

TAX DEAL IRKS CITY

NY Post

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The Bloomberg administration is threatening to pull more than $100 million in city subsidies from the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn unless a deal providing massive tax breaks for developer Bruce Ratner is drastically revised.

"Pure and simple, it's a giveaway," a high-ranking city official told The Post.

At issue is an affordable-housing reform bill hastily passed by the state Legislature that included a special "carve-out" for Atlantic Yards.

Proving that you need to be a developer, an affordable housing advocate or have a mensa IQ to follow this stuff, Norman Oder emailed us to explain that the Post article mischaracterized the distinction between Atlantic Yards and other projects eligible for exemptions under the 421-a reform bill.

The Post reported:

[The bill] also exempts Atlantic Yards from a new definition of government-assisted affordable housing that limits it only to low-income households. Atlantic Yards could still include middle-income tenants.

Norman Oder explains that it has nothing to do with the middle-income tenants:

It's the other 900 units--40% of aff housing, 20% of rentals--at issue. The income threshold for them has been raised to 70% of AMI (Area Median Income), while it's 60% for everyone else to get 421-a.

The Post gets this part right:

Another provision eliminates - for Ratner only - the requirement that at least 20 percent of the housing units in each building in a complex be affordable.

Critics say it opens the door to Ratner "segregating" all of the project's 2,500 affordable-housing units into several buildings.

Aside from giving Ratner an advantage over all other overdevelopers, the arrangement could get progressively worse for New Yorkers:

"More sinister, [Ratner] can build the market-rate housing first and wait a decade to do the affordable housing or, even worse, come back after the market-rate housing is done and then say, 'We can't afford to do the affordable housing,' " an official said.

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Posted by lumi at July 23, 2007 10:19 AM