Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Two hallmark projects received more than $118 million in property tax exemptions and tax abatements from the New York City Industrial Development Agency (NYCIDA) in the waning weeks of the Bloomberg Administration. If the projects had been on next month's agenda, after Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is sworn in as New York city's Mayor, these projects might not have passed muster.
The Board approved more than $76 million in subsidies for developer One Hudson Yards to build a high-rise office building at Eleventh Avenue and West 33rd street. It also voted in favor of more than $42 million in tax breaks for Phase 1 of Willets Point, the 23-acre site next to Citi Field in Queens, now slated to become a hotel and retail facility. That project received more than $100 million in grants already.
But under de Blasio's administration, such corporate incentives will likely meet with more skepticism. During the campaign, de Blasio railed against subsidies, and promised to end one program that he said will save the city $250 million.
"I'm proposing wholesale reform of our city's tax incentive policies that give hundreds of millions of dollars to office towers on Park Avenue and unaccountable one-shot subsidies to companies who can do without them," said the candidate at a speech at CUNY in the spring.
The subsidy question is a sticky one for de Blasio, because he has a history of supporting some projects that received subsidies, like Atlantic Yards, a massive, mixed-use development under construction in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The project has promised affordable housing units, but has yet to deliver. Ground breaking on the housing portion of the facility, which includes the Barclays Arena, is expected some time next year.
"Mayor-elect de Blasio supported Atlantic Yards because Brooklyn needs more affordable housing, and locating density near mass transit makes sense," de Blasio's spokeswoman Lis Smith said to WNYC in an email.