Government in brief

Port Authority plans to shrink WTC project

The World Trade Center project will shrink from five skyscrapers to just two towers, the New York Daily News reported. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to cut the amount of office space built at the site to 5 million square feet from 10 million, sources familiar with the plan said. The Port Authority also would build two four- or five-floor buildings for retail use instead of developer Larry Silverstein’s two proposed 79-story towers. The credit crunch has limited financing for the project.

REBNY gearing up for tax hike battle

The Real Estate Board of New York is pulling together business groups across the state with the intention of fighting proposed tax increases in New York, said Steven Spinola, the group’s president, at an event last month. Spinola said REBNY and other business associations need to be more active in their opposition to real estate and other tax increases. “The business community needs to be more vocal. That is us and that is every business person. We are being drowned out by demands for ‘tax the rich,’ ‘millionaire’s taxes,’ ‘tax businesses’ and ‘provide services,'” Spinola said, “and we have to stand up and basically say that is not going to work.”

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Quinn says rent board caters to landlords

In response to the Rent Guidelines Board’s proposed hike for stabilized rental units, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the board has to “end its longstanding practice of catering to landlords.” The board proposed increases of 2 percent to 4.5 percent for one-year leases and 4 percent to 7.5 percent for two-year leases. Quinn said last year’s rent hike will cover the increasing operating expenses expected for this year. She also said that according to the board’s 2009 income and expense report, revenues have exceeded expenses and that average monthly net operating income was 17.2 percent higher in 2007 than in 1990, after adjusting for inflation. Quinn said that “landlords will still make money if rents are frozen — they just won’t make it hand over fist,” the Daily News reported.

Rhea appointed housing authority chairman

Mayor Bloomberg last month appointed John Rhea to serve as chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, according to a press release from Bloomberg’s office. Rhea succeeds Tino Hernandez, the previous chairman, and Ricardo Elias Morales, who was serving as interim chairman. Rhea most recently was managing director and co-head of the global consumer/retail group at Barclays Capital. NYCHA, the largest public housing authority in the country, oversees 178,000 affordable housing units in 340 developments. “John will bring new dynamic leadership and innovative thinking to managing NYCHA at a particularly challenging time for public housing,” Bloomberg said.

Landmarks says Rudin must shrink tower

The Landmarks Preservation Commission told Rudin Management to downsize its proposed residential project on the site of the current St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village. The commission said the tallest tower proposed for the site on the east side of Seventh Avenue, between 11th and 12th streets, has to be lower, but the commission didn’t specify by how much, the New York Post reported. The commission already approved construction and design of a new hospital on the west side of Seventh Avenue.