Outrage Mounting over Ratner’s 421-a Carve-Out

In the days since the State announced its version of a bill to expand the areas in which developers would have to include affordordable housing to qualify for the 421-a tax breaks, public outrage over a sweetheart deal for Forest City Ratner has been rising. A recent NY Observer article explained the hand-out:

yardsrendering44.jpgThe 22-acre complex, now in its preparatory phase, will consist of 16 buildings and a basketball arena. Some of those buildings are expected to consist entirely of market-rate condominiums—for a total of 1,900 for-sale units–while others will consist of rentals of varying levels of affordability, with about 2,250 of them market-rate, about 1,125 of them for low-income families, and the remaining 1,125 for families in between.

In such multi-phase projects, according to the state bill, the whole development can qualify for the tax abatement so long as one-fifth of the apartments in the entire complex are affordable to people who make 80 percent of the area median income. (The AMI is roughly $70,000 for a family of four.) Under the City Council version, only those buildings that had affordable units in them would qualify, while developer Forest City Ratner would have had to pay full taxes on their condominium towers. Therefore, Forest City may be able to qualify some of its market-rate buildings for the tax break and save itself millions of dollars.

The provision of the bill (which was approved yesterday) is so shocking that both Bertha Lewis of ACORN, which is contractually obligated to say nice things about the project, called it “bad public policy” and The Daily News, whose usual coverage of the project is limited to the shilling of Errol Lewis, ran an editorial this morning calling it “sick.” The person to thank for the Ratner provision is Vito Lopez, who is the top dog on the State Assembly’s Housing Committee. He slipped the wording in over the weekend, according to The Daily News. Hakeem Jeffries, who voted for the bill anyway, says he found out about the Ratner provision only the night before the vote. The Daily News editorial cites one estimate of the hand-out being worth as much as $270 million.
421a Bill Gives Special Treatment to Atlantic Yards [NY Observer]
FCR Won’t Comment, ACORN Calls it “Bad Public Policy” [AY Report]
Atlantic Yards Gets a Deal so Sweet it’s Sick [NY Daily News]
State Raises Affordable Housing Bar for 421-a Bill [Brownstoner]
Rendering from a photo by Flatbush Gardener

0 Comment

  • sickening and gross

  • What is shilling supposed to mean as used in the context below? Lewis does good things for Crown Heights, not sure about his coverage of Ratner.
    “And The Daily News, whose usual coverage of the project is limited to the shilling of Errol Lewis, ran an editorial this morning calling it ‘sick.’ “

  • let them eat cake

  • So what? Who cares? More power to FCR and any other developer who takes advantage of tax loopholes. That’s business. That’s the way the game is played. FCR took the lead in Brooklyn when no other big time developer cared a bit about this borough. FCR put Brooklyn development on the map. There’s no reward without risk and I seriously hope that Ratner continues to reap massive benefits from AY. In the end, the project will be a major win for Brooklyn. It’s going to be awesome! If FCR gets a huge tax benefit I really couldn’t care less. I want this sucker built and I want it built now! Let’s go NETS!

    Go cry be a river someplace else, Brownstoner, and stop schilling for Norman Oder. Are you his cyber-bitch?

  • can’t wait to be able to pay only $2000 for a crappy one bedroom with an eight foot ceiling, paper thin walls, and misaligned moldings.

  • that’s $2000 per month rent, of course

  • This isn’t taking advantage of an existing tax loophole. This is getting the Legislature to write a special one just for you. We should all be so “lucky.”

  • 10:48– who’s paying you & if you are so knowledgeable about Brooklyn history please share with us the REAL story of Metrotech, its proposal, construction & “growth”?

    also sweety (not “bitch”), explain the great CAPITALISM behind Atlantic Center Mall? (or should i say… oligarchy?)

    one note: it’s Errol Louis & calling him a shall is… absolutely correct, but he’s worse than that. Errol’s transformation into a neo-con windbag is one of the more gruesome displays in the New York papers in recent years, esp. given the still small # of black voices there. hard to decide who’s worse, Errol or Stanley Crouch– they both “excel” in equally loathesome, anti-intellectual, essentially DIShonest ways.

    p/s: i do see 10:48 could be SATIRE; if so, ok, i was played.

  • Don’t complain. Compete!

    Step up your game and stop bitch’n!

  • Don’t complain. Compete!

    Step up your game and stop bitch’n!

  • as someone above note well. This is not a loophole that developers can all take advantage of. This is a special clause in a reform bil, contradicting everything the reform bill stands for, JUST FOR BRUCE RATNER. Get it?

    as for Brownstoner “schilling” [sic] (he’s a good pitcher by the way) for Norman Oder, is Brownstoner also shilling for perhaps this City’s last best old-school columnist Juan Gonzalez?

  • This is small change compared to the huge amount of money the city takes out of my paycheck to pay for hordes of useless city workers and the voter buying scam known as welfare.

    A minority of New Yorkers already support the majority who live on the public dime and vote for the scumbags in office. How is this any different? At least we get some new housing out of it.

  • If Hakeem found out the night before the vote, what’s his excuse for continuing to support the bill the next day?

    Did the dog eat his conscience?

  • Seriously, how long would the city function if the majority of the population really sat around doing nothing?

    Willfull ignorance is a great thing I guess…

  • From a policy perspective, the point is that this deal isn’t even an incentive. FCR wants to do AY with or without this latest little bonus. So even if you support AY as is without modification, there is no justification to line Ratner’s pockets further. The sad part is that no one asked FCR to do anything in exchange for the amendment, like scale back a bit or do any one of a number of things of equivalent value to what FCR is getting.

  • Just take Bertha Lewis’ word for it, from Gonzalez’s column:

    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.”

  • How does one “compete” when the game is rigged by the government in favor of Forest City. This is a classic example of “rent seeking” with eminent domain seizures thrown in. Political corruption plain and simple.

    There is a line of developers that would take this site without the handouts from Albany, thus no need for the subsidies.

  • Ah I see the “legendary” Eryximachus has already contributed another exemplary post full of intelligent insights and helpful solutions. Excuse me for a moment- I have to stop laughing. Kid- go home. Come play among the grown ups when you get a brain. As for “useless City workers” like the 23 year old firefighter who died on the job yesterday? That useless city worker?

    go home, drink warm milk, watch cartoons- whatever children of your level of maturity do and in 10 or 15 years time maybe you’ll be ready to take your lamented place in society. You know, when you learn to use a brain cell- if ever.

  • Eryximachus: You know who is gonna get some new housing out of this for sure? One Vito Lopes. I’m not saying he’s definitely gonna get the Penthouse at Ratnerville, but whatever grease his palm got will certainly make a nice downpayment on a lovely new home.

  • I love this. When a columnist takes a viewpoint that is different from that of the web master, it’s shilling. And Norman Oder is an objective “journalist” who maintains neutrality at all times.


  • Errol Lewis’s reputation for shilling is based on quite a bit more than his pro Ratner stance.

  • Actually, this is incredible. It seems that Ratner is untouchable. Those doomed court cases are now even more doomed.

  • If I could write laws the way Ratner does I’d have a law passed saying the city has to pick up my bar tab – and then the pro-AY folks on this board could all applaud how hard I’m working to grow the local economy

  • I’m sorry but I stand with the strong and not the weak. You guys are pathetic. FCR rules! He’s killing the opposition. All you can do is bitch and moan. STFU and GFO!

  • Hey, at recess you wanna give a wedgie to that small kid who wets his pants?

    to be more clear:

  • But I’m sure Ms. Lewis and her supporters are still drunk on the kool-aid about the community benefits agreements (cba) that they signed with Ratner? These are the same sleaze-bags that had the nerve to call Tish James, “Aunt Jemima,” at the public hearing (also rigged) after they figured out she wasn’t with their side. Now who’s the Uncle Tom, huh, Bertha? Want to bet that this violates the CBA? I double dare any of you Ratner goons/hacks on here (that are clearly on the payroll) to prove me wrong.

  • Tish is Jemima. She belongs in the sewer.

  • 12:47,

    If we are “clearly” on the payroll, then please provide proof.

    I’m sure I’ll be waiting forever.

  • Tish James is the best.