The Daily Dirt: Will the city revise its property tax system?

Lawsuit blessed by Court of Appeals could push reform

<p>From left: Eric Adams, Martha Stark and Kathy Hochul (Getty, Stark Patch Legal)</p>

From left: Eric Adams, Martha Stark and Kathy Hochul (Getty, Stark Patch Legal)

A housing emergency and possible property tax overhaul. You know, just your typical Tuesday.

For seven years, Tax Equity Now New York has tried to force New York to fix its property tax system, which the group argues is unfair to communities of color.

The state’s highest court handed TENNY a win on Tuesday: The Court of Appeals found that its lawsuit challenging the city’s property tax system was wrongly dismissed by a mid-level appellate court. The decision means that the lawsuit goes back to the state Supreme Court for consideration.

Some were heartened by the length and specificity of the court’s majority opinion, believing it would pressure the city’s Department of Finance to level the playing field for rental buildings. The Adams administration briefly commented on the suit, downplaying the decision as merely finding that TENNY had standing to bring it.

But the court said more than that. It wrote that the suit “sufficiently alleges causes of action against the City … on the general basis that the system is unfair, inequitable and has a discriminatory disparate impact on certain protected classes of New York City property owners.”

Meanwhile, the City Council voted in favor of extending rent stabilization in the city through April 1, 2027. The rent stabilization system hinges on the existence of a housing emergency, defined as a rental vacancy rate of less than 5 percent.

The city assesses every three or four years whether a housing emergency exists. The vacancy rate between January and mid-June 2023 was 1.4 percent.

As all of this was going on, tenant advocates rallied at the state Capitol for the passage of good cause eviction.

These events are not directly related, but fit into the big-picture questions about how New York will address its housing crisis. Good cause is being contemplated as part of a larger housing package that would include a replacement for the property tax break 421a.

An overhaul of the city’s property tax system won’t happen quickly enough to affect those talks, but Tuesday’s events could shape future discussions about what tax breaks are necessary to incentivize multifamily development.

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A thing we’ve learned: DVD rental and movie streaming service Redbox is owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, a publicly traded company that is known for its feel-good short story books.  

Elsewhere in New York…

Pharmacies in New York can now dispense birth control without a prescription, Gothamist reports. Individuals can get a year’s supply of three three types of birth control. New Jersey approved a similar rule last year.

A survey conducted by the Citizens Budget Commission found that only 30 percent of New Yorkers would rate quality of life in NYC as “excellent” or “good,” the New York Times reports. In a similar survey in 2017, that percentage was 51 percent.

City taxpayers will pay for Mayor Eric Adams’ defense against sexual assault allegations, Politico New York reports. “It is not unusual or atypical for the corporation counsel or city Law Department to defend the city and the employee,” said Victor Kovner, a former New York City corporation counsel. “There are some exceptions to that, but that’s the basic practice.” The city’s chief lawyer said Adams is entitled to legal representation because he was a transit officer at the time of the alleged incident.

Closing Time 

Residential: The priciest sale on Tuesday was $6.6 million for a 2,770-square-foot condominium unit at 30 Warren Street in Tribeca. 

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $2.78 million for a 4,200-square-foot, one-story retail building at 181-183 Pacific Street in Cobble Hill. 

New to the Market: The highest price for a residential property hitting the market Tuesday was $11.25 million for a co-op apartment at 800 Park Avenue, in Lenox Hill. Brian Morgan, Deborah Grubman and a third Corcoran Group agent have the listing.

Breaking Ground: The largest new building filing of the day was for Landau Properties’ 412,000-square-foot, 47-story mixed-use project at 205 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Permits were filed by Hill West Architects.