Today’s news:

City subsidy not ‘Square’: activists

The Brooklyn Paper

Downtown activists are objecting to a city plan to subsidize office construction in a new residential skyscraper in Albee Square — the latest battle against taxpayer-underwritten projects that earn millions for developers.

Demonstrators crowded a public hearing last week to protest a city plan to give a $3.2-million tax break to the new owners of the soon-to-be-razed Gallery mall so they can build a 40-story tower comprising four floors of shops, three floors of offices, 800 luxury apartments, and 200 below-market-rate units.

“It is unreal that the city is giving a tax break to this developer when you have people right here needing homes,” said Beverly Corbin, chairwoman of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality.

The developer — a team that includes a New York-based Acadia Realty Trust — is also expected to seek an additional tax break for the affordable housing units.

The mall stands at a high-traffic intersection of Willoughby Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension, on the fringe of the popular pedestrian corridor, Fulton Mall. Real-estate experts believe that the tower could be extremely profitable.

Nonetheless, city officials and real-estate experts said the subsidy is necessary to encourage office development in Downtown.

“The developer has [enough] incentive to build residential towers and retail [but] it has been harder for the city to reach its goal of developing [Downtown Brooklyn] for offices,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “If it wants offices, it must encourage that growth.”

But some developers have already made big bucks off the spike in the Downtown real-estate market created by the city’s 2004 upzoning.

After all, the mall’s previous owner, Thor Equities, paid $25 million for the site in 2001 — and then flipped it last month for $125 million.

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