Miki Naftali, Meredith Marshall talk development, death of 421a

As industry leaders warn that the demise of a property tax break will mean fewer affordable apartments, one developer held out his Williamsburg project as Exhibit A.

Miki Naftali, chair and CEO of the Naftali Group, said his company had planned to set aside 30 percent of the rental units in the second phase of a massive project at 470 Kent Avenue as affordable. But without the 421a abatement or a replacement, his firm will move forward with a condominium project instead.

“What choice do we have?” he said during The Real Deal’s New York Showcase + Forum on Thursday. “We’re going to sell them; we’re going to make money. How does that help anybody?”

He noted that affordable housing will not be built with the tax break, which expires June 15.

“Who is going to build it? The city? The state? It’s not going to happen.”

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Naftali appeared on a panel with Meredith Marshall, co-founder & managing partner of BRP Companies, who joked about suing lawmakers for “malpractice” if they allow the tax break to lapse. He said the city is also in danger of losing construction jobs to more development-friendly markets.

“Able-bodied workers are not going to hang around,” Marshall said.

Asked about opportunities to buy development sites, Naftali noted that prices are higher than they were in 2021. (His company closed on the Williamsburg site in May 2020 for a little more than $100 million.) Marshall found the silver lining of rising interest rates: Sellers feel antsy, giving him some leverage.

“I like uncertainty,” Marshall said. “If we were nervous, then we couldn’t be in the development business.”

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