Speyer’s LIC megaproject strikes a nerve with de Blasio

Developer eligible for large 421a tax break without being required to build affordable units

From left: Bill de Blasio and Rob Speyer
From left: Bill de Blasio and Rob Speyer

Tishman Speyer’s residential megaproject in Long Island City is eligible for a $200 million 421a tax abatement without having to build a single low-cost unit, something that is creating friction with leadership at City Hall.

Speyer is looking to build a three-building residential project on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, which will include roughly 1,800 apartments and will cost $875 million, according to the New York Times. Speyer is looking to start construction soon — before June 15 when the tax law is set to expire — to qualify for a 421a tax abatement that would be worth about $200 million. Under the current 421a rules, Speyer won’t be required to add any affordable units to the project due to the location of his new development.

At least 30 developers — among them Extell Development’s Gary Barnett, Related Companies’ Stephen Ross and Forest City Ratner’s Bruce Ratner — are also looking to start construction before June 15 and take advantage of the 421a tax break. Some of those developers, however, will be required to set aside 20 percent of their units for below market housing. Speyer is one of six developers who will not have to include any affordable units in their new projects if they lay a foundation before June 15, according to the newspaper.

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“This isn’t our vision for the city,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told the New York Times. “This is, in fact, a great example of why we need to change the status quo. In many ways, it’s the most overt example of the need to think through the public benefits we get when the city and the state offer tax breaks.”

Steven Rubenstein, a spokesperson for Tishman Speyer, said: “We believe this project will greatly add to the Long Island City community.”

Tenant advocates have been fighting to abolish the tax break, while developers have supported the initiative. [NYT] — Claire Moses