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City officials have reportedly trimmed a $300-million tax break for Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner that was rubberstamped by state lawmakers last month.
The Bloomberg administration had been under fire to step in after the legislature passed the so-called “Ratner carve-out,” an amendment to a housing bill that allowed Ratner — and only Ratner — to get an affordable housing tax credit even on Atlantic Yards buildings that included no affordable housing units.
After the legislation passed, Bloomberg publicly broke with Ratner, saying the bill would “hurt the very people that everybody talks about helping and gives some tax breaks to a developer that doesn’t need them.” Now the mayor has acted.
According to the Daily News, city officials reduced the length of the tax break from 25 years to 15 years, saving an estimated $100 million.
The remaining tax break would still save Ratner $200 million, the Bloomberg administration has estimated.
Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher declined to comment on the Daily News story, saying only that negotiations were “continuing” between Forest City Ratner executives, city officials and state leaders.
But a source in the administration told the New York Post earlier this week that the Bloomberg administration objects to the “Ratner carve-out” because “pure and simple, it’s a giveaway.”
It’s the first time city officials have publicly objected to any of the billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed subsidies Ratner will receive on the Atlantic Yards project.
Forest City Ratner officials did not return repeated calls and e-mails from The Brooklyn Paper. A company spokesman, Loren Riegelhaupt, did tell the Daily News that “as far as we’re concerned, the issue has been resolved.”
The city rift with Ratner comes after a new financial analysis of Atlantic Yards revealed that the Frank Gehry-designed basketball arena at its center will actually be a money-loser for the city.
The amount of direct subsidy that the city will give Ratner to build the arena has more than doubled — jumping from $100 million to $205 million — in the two years since the city’s Independent Budget Office said the arena create “a modest” net gain of $107 million in tax revenue.
But the new study by the Atlantic Yards Report, a Web site, reveals that the arena will instead cost taxpayers $77 million over 30 years, according to the analysis.
IBO Deputy Director George Sweeting said the new numbers came as a little surprise to him.
“Because the size of the city contribution has grown, the gain from the arena is certainly less than $30 million and it could be a loss,” said Sweeting, adding that the organization had no plans to do the math again.
“[Our first study] wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement,” Sweeting said.
— with Ariella Cohen
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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