Brooklyn Life

by
67

There were a couple of articles in the New York Times in December about a movement to rein in the aggressive use of facade easements by owners of historic homes looking for a tax-break windfall. The value of the easement can equal up to 15% of the market value of the house and the tax breaks can be spread out over up to six years. Call us naive, but it hadn’t even occurred to us that we could profit by promising not to alter our facade–since we already are prevented from doing so by the Landmarks regulations. Clearly that is no barrier though: Basil and Eunice Whiting got a $189,000 break last year when they promised not to alter the facade of their 1850’s town house in the Cobble Hill Historic District–and several neighbors followed suit. We’d love to hear from people who have donated easements in already Landmarked areas–and from any lawyers or tax specialists who know whether this will be fair game this year.
Rushing for Tax Breaks on Historic Houses [NY Times]
Tax Breaks on Historic Houses Face Restrictions [NY Times]
Panel Advises Ending Breaks for Easements [Washington Post]

by
5


Yesterday’s article in the New York Times about developer Shaya Boymelgreen and his billionaire backer Lev Leviev mentions several of their current Brooklyn ventures:

[In January] the partners paid $8 million for a property on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, the last piece in an assemblage of industrial parcels he hopes to turn into a hip village of 400 apartments beside the still-murky waterway. While he is a long way from getting zoning changes and myriad approvals, he has hired the cutting-edge architect Enrique Norten to start shaping the complex, complete with waterfront esplanade and sidewalk cafe, into a dream of urban reclamation. They are [also] building a boutique hotel with 50 luxury apartments at Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street in downtown Brooklyn. And he is building the tallest building in Dumbo in Brooklyn, Beacon Tower, with 23 floors and 79 apartments, at 85 Adams Street.
A Developer Finds Many Opportunities [NY Times]

by
5

We got an email from a reporter at the New York Times researching a story about property tax increases. Evidently there are some unhappy homeowners in Harlem who have been hit with big increases as a result of significant renovations and/or C of O changes. We haven’t heard much griping from Brooklyn brownstoners, but we’d like to know if anyone has seen this happening. According to the reporter, those with 4-family houses have been particularly hard hit.