City Mulls Extending Tax Breaks to Jump-Start Stalled Sites

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City Mulls Extending Tax Breaks to Jump-Start Stalled Sites

construction site
Cindy Rodriguez
WNYC
02/08/2011

The city wants to give developers more time to take advantage of a tax abatement for new apartment buildings. Housing officials said the move is needed to get stalled construction sites moving but critics call the move a giveaway for real estate developers.

Under current rules, developers have until June to complete the projects and still get property tax breaks. The proposal would give them three more years to finish.

Housing Commissioner Rafael Cestero predicted that without the change hundreds of sites will continue to lay dormant, fall into bankruptcy and blight neighborhoods.

"This is a choice between a site getting into construction and creating much needed jobs today versus who knows what's going to happen with that site", said Cestero.

Brooklyn City Councilman Brad Lander disagrees and said the lost tax revenue is badly needed during this year's budget. Lander said many of the stalled sites were speculative projects that were started only to take advantage of the tax break.

"If we just go with what was agreed to then we'll either when those sites develop collect more tax revenue or get more affordable housing so it is a loss to the city either in dollars or in affordable units", Lander said.

Under new rules, developers would not be able to receive the tax abatement in many neighborhoods without setting aside 20 percent of their apartments for low income households.

The Real Estate Board of New York said no developer will build right now unless there is a tax break.

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Photo Credit: Sam Lews/WNYC

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