555Ten, an Extell building that would be affected by the 421-a changes
As 6sqft reported last week, Governor Cuomo, developers, and unions have been engaging in closed-door talks to bring forth his revision of the city’s 421-a program that includes wage subsidies and an extension of the previous 25-year tax break up to 45 years. Glaringly (but not surprisingly) absent from the negotiations is Mayor de Blasio, but he’s now taking matters into his own hands, at least when it comes to those under-construction buildings that got in to the program before it expired in January. According to the Times, the de Blasio administration introduced a new policy that says these projects must include housing for some of the 60,000 New Yorkers currently living in homeless shelters, but developers, particularly Extell’s Gary Barnett, are not happy about the changes.
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The city’s hotly debated 421-a tax abatement program expired in January after a 44-year run. CityRealty reports that the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development has seen the number of applications for tax exemption decrease by 45 percent from that time to September 2016, costing the city $1.2 billion this fiscal year. Over the summer, the Governor presented a revised version of the program that would offer wage subsidies to construction workers, but this drew concern from the Real Estate Board of New York, who say the proposal would cause construction costs to rise by up to 30 percent. Now, Politico reports that Cuomo, developers, and unions have been engaging in closed-door negotiations to bring his plan forward and extend the previous 25-year tax break up to 45 years (REBNY and the Mayor had presented a 35-year extension last summer).
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On this past January 1, the 421-a tax abatement program expired after 44 years in existence. Any new construction permitted before January will still benefit from the program, but many want to know what the expiration of this program mean for new construction? And how will the projects still under the 421-a umbrella use their reduced tax status to promote their buildings? While some experts feel that shutting down the abatement was an action long overdue, many others believe that the program’s end has prompted “a self-created recession.”
READ THE FULL STORY AT CITYREALTY…
View the map from ProPublica in its interactive form here >>
The city’s 421-a program, which expired in January, provides tax breaks of up to 25 years to new residential buildings that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable. Proponents of the program feel it offers a much-needed incentive to build low- and moderate-income housing, but those not in favor think it gives unfair tax breaks to the wealthiest developers. The latter camp may be gaining steam, as a new report from ProPublica, outlined in Gothamist, says that nearly two thirds of the 6,400 rental buildings where landlords received tax reductions through 421-a didn’t have required rent stabilization paperwork on file, meaning they could raise rents as much as they chose. ProPublica compiled this data in both an interactive map and searchable database.
Is your landlord cheating the system?
, Mon, September 19, 2016
If you’ve followed Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump‘s gold-plated real estate career, you might already know how much of his success has been due to his family’s extensive political connections–and generous tax breaks, grants and incentives from the government and taxpayers. In case you haven’t read Trump’s 1987 bestseller “The Art of the Deal,” the New York Times illuminates the role that hundreds of millions in tax breaks have played in the Trump empire. While Trump may not be much different from other developers in seeking tax breaks, the candidate vociferously paints a picture of a rigged system and a fixed game. But these very fixes have enabled him to achieve a net worth estimated at 4.5 billion and the opportunity to indulge a run for the nation’s highest office.
So what’s been going on here?
One of the biggest snags in Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan (to add/preserve 200,000 such units over the next decade) has been his contention with Governor Cuomo over the city’s 421-a program, which provides tax breaks for up to 25 years to new residential buildings that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable. The program expired in January, fueling concerns that permits for new rental units would drop as developers face skyrocketing land prices and be replaced with even more luxury condos.
Now, after months of uncertainty, the Times reports that the Governor “has offered developers and union officials a wage subsidy for construction workers in the hopes of reviving [421-a].” His proposal was sent out as a single-page memo to residential developers on Tuesday night, presumably unbeknownst to de Blasio. Though it doesn’t require union work force or prevailing wages, it does set a $65/hour minimum for projects south of 96th Street in Manhattan with 300 or more units and a $50/hour minimum for those of the same size along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, $15 of which will be paid for by the state. These projects will be required to set aside 25 to 30 percent of units as below-market rate rentals.
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For the past four years, Brooklyn has had more residential permits issues through the Department of Buildings than any other borough. But according to a report from the New York Building Congress shared by DNAinfo, during the first six months of 2016, the Bronx has taken the lead, accounting for nearly 32 percent of all permitted units, a major jump from its 11 percent average over the past four years.
For comparison, last year Brooklyn had a staggering 26,000 units permitted, but this year fell to 1,400; the Bronx had 1,900 units authorized this year. Brooklyn’s sharp decrease is part of a city-wide drop after the 421-a program expired at the beginning of the year that caused developers to rush to get their permits in at the end of 2015. But the Bronx’s surge is likely due to a huge affordable housing push: “More than 43 percent of the units that began construction in the first six months of this year under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan… were in the Bronx.”
More on the trend
The city’s 421a program, which provides tax breaks of up to 25 years to new residential buildings that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable housing, expired in January, leaving Mayor de Blasio concerned for his push to add/preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. According to a REBNY report last year, 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in the pipeline, and if it’s not renewed some of them could end up as high-end luxury condos or lost forever as housing for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Critics of the program, however, feel that it actually destroys affordable housing by virtue of itself, giving unfair tax breaks to the wealthiest developers, and the Mayor doesn’t disagree.
The Real Deal reports today that de Blasio “implored the state’s affordable housing developers to pressure Albany to pass a reformed 421a program before the legislative session comes to a close next month.” He said, “When it comes to the 421a program, I’ve said many times, the way it was configured in past years didn’t make sense anymore. It wasn’t fair to the taxpayers. It wasn’t helping us create the affordable housing we needed. It focused too much on luxury buildings.” But considering his “icy relationship” with Governor Cuomo, it’s definitely a toss up.
Lead image via Jason Farrar
Image via Jason Farrar
With the fate of the city’s 421-a tax abatement remaining uncertain, developers scurried to obtain permits before the year’s end, resulting in a number of permits granted in December that was more than four times the number issued the previous month, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to new U.S. Census figures, permits for 299 projects containing 7,781 residential housing units were granted during the month of December, indicating that as New York City’s most lucrative property-tax abatement approached its last hours, architects and developers rushed to get building permits and begin construction.
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Early last month, we reported that building permits were soaring to levels not seen since the 1960s. Now Crain’s tells us that the trend has taken a sharp decline with permits plunging a whopping 90 percent from June. The numbers, which were pulled from the latest stats released by the U.S. Census Bureau, point to changes in the very generous tax breaks provided by the 421-a tax abatement program as the culprit.