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Release: July 26,
Behind Closed Doors, a Ratner Conpromise
After "Negotiations," Developer Bruce Ratner
Still Set to Reap $200 Million Tax Break from
421-a "Reform" Bill's Exclusive "Atlantic Yards" Clause
NEW YORK, NY -- If a report in today's
Daily News is accurate, developer Bruce Ratner and city officials
are trying to spin a 33% reduction in a special
tax break legislated exclusively for the Atlantic Yards developer as
a meaningful "scale back." But it's a "scale back" to a special property
tax break for Ratner that should never have existed in the first place.
As of three days ago, the Bloomberg administration wanted
the exclusive tax provision removed entirely.
The News reports that the city and Forest City Ratner held "negotiations" over the 421-a reform bill's original special provision, reducing the exclusive tax break from $300 million to $200 million. The project's 1,930 condominium units would receive tax exemptions for 15 years rather than the 25 years originally outlined.
"Negotiated behind closed doors, this so-called 'compromise' of the 421-a
special tax break exclusively for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards--a
tax break unavailable to any other developer in the city, and one
that should never have existed in the first place--is an offensive sham.
Unless this indefensible, blatant giveaway to Bruce Ratner, which will cost
taxpayers at least $200 million, is removed from the bill, reform-minded
Governor Eliot Spitzer must veto the bill," said Develop Don't Destroy
Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein. "Earlier this week, the Bloomberg Administration
was all snarl and bluster, threatening to pull $105 million in promised
Atlantic Yards cash subsidies, but today, it's apparent that the city was
all bark and no bite. There is no fundamental difference between the original
sweetheart deal and this negotiated sweetheart deal; the negotiated agreement
is a toothless joke."
It is unclear how legislators critical of the special Ratner clause will react to reports of a non-compromise compromise, which does not fundamentally change the original special provision at all or respond to widespread criticism of the Atlantic Yards carve-out.
At a town hall meeting just two days ago, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (57th
District, which encompasses the Atlantic Yards project site) called
the special tax break for Ratner "offensive," and said that the
developer must "comply with the [421-a] law." He added that "the government
should review completely the entire merits of this project" if the special
clause is not eliminated. Mr. Jeffries also called the special Atlantic
Yards carve-out "economic segregation" because "[Forest City Ratner]
negotiated a provision that would allow them to have all luxury condominiums
and still get the tax break."
It is also unclear how ACORN's Bertha Lewis, a staunch Atlantic Yards supporter,
will react to reports of this "negotiation." She has called the special
Ratner provision "bad
Much like the mythical scale-back of the Atlantic Yards project--announce
project, increase size of project, return project to original size, claim
reduction--this so-called "scale back" of the special 421-a Atlantic Yards
"carve-out" plays the same game: propose and pass legislation allowing a
large, indefensible tax break that should not exist at all, reduce the size
of the large, indefensible tax break that shouldn't exist, and claim it
save the city $100 million."
Former City Planning Commissioner Ron Shiffman said, "Ratner always asks for more than he needs, but the politicians and bureaucrats always give him more than he expects. In this case of the 421-a special provision, the so-called 'compromise' far exceeds what he deserves."
DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of
dividing and destroying them