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

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    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:

    The 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

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