New York’s most generous tax break could wipe out the dust

Good morning. It’s Friday. We will see the end of a costly housing subsidy that has shaped the city since the 1970s. We will also see inequality in parks and pools.

Since 1971, nearly every major residential real estate project in New York City has benefited from a grant known as the 421a.

It’s the most generous tax break in the city, costing $1.77 billion a year in lost tax revenue.

And in just over three weeks, it will probably go the way of leisure suits, pet rocks, and the Ford Maverick.

The state Legislature is unlikely to renew the subsidy before it expires on June 15. Concerned builders scrambled to start new projects to qualify for 421a before then, particularly in the Gowanus area of ​​Brooklyn, which has been rezoned for large-scale residential housing. projects last year.

Gov. Kathy Hochul pushed through a revised and renamed version of 421a, but it found no support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers and real estate industry officials say there was reluctance to renew a lucrative real estate industry tax break before the November election.

“A lot of people have serious reservations about the 421st as it is currently constituted,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx, adding, “I just don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth on the 421st.”

Developers were typically required to build some below-market rents in exchange for tax breaks on market-rate apartments and condos. But critics of the provision say it amounted to a giveaway because developers kept the mix of low-income units as small as possible.

“421a is an absurdly expensive, broken Band-Aid placed on top of New York City’s broken property tax system,” said City Comptroller Brad Lander, who has pushed for an end to the New York City exemption. taxes. “It is good that it is not renewed.”

The impact of allowing it to expire will not be felt for several years. Matthew Murphy, executive director of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, said the 421a rental projects that are underway will take time to complete. After that, he predicted, developers will favor condos, which generate higher returns.

But ending 421a won’t make an expensive city more affordable.

“All it does is introduce a lot of uncertainty into development,” he said, “and exacerbate long-term housing shortages.”


Expect a cloudy day, with temperatures rising into the 70s. There could be light rain in the morning. Showers are likely later, with overnight temperatures dropping into the mid-60s.


Suspended on Monday (Memorial Day).

Many of us will be thinking of going to the beach or relaxing in the parks this Memorial Day weekend. But in aging cities like New York, summer isn’t all joy. Heat kills about 350 New Yorkers a year, and the risk is not shared equally. Black New Yorkers are more than twice as likely to die from the heat as white residents, according to city data. I asked my colleague Anne Barnard to discuss the inequalities that New Yorkers see every day without realizing their impact.

Life unfolds again in public spaces as New York returns, somewhat unevenly, from the pandemic. Anyone is supposed to take advantage of parks, public swimming pools, and libraries. But the facilities are not the same from one neighborhood to another, right?

No. All through last summer, New York Times reporters roamed the city to see how differences affect people’s lives. What we learned points to who will suffer the most from the heat this summer.

Consider this: In Crotona Park East in the Bronx, 41 percent of residents fall below the federal poverty line, 24 percent of households lack air conditioning, and few have cars to get to beaches or malls. forests.

By contrast, in Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side, one of the wealthiest and whitest sections of the city, 96 percent of homes have air conditioning. And so many residents there have the money and flexibility to get out of town in the summer that during the hottest weeks of last year, some streets seemed empty. Central Park is nearby, but many in Carnegie Hill weren’t there to take advantage of it.

New York built large, elegant public swimming pools in the 1930s. They were symbols of civic pride and public investment. What do you think now?

New York has less than one swimming pool for every 100,000 inhabitants. That’s less than most US cities, with more per capita in Manhattan and Staten Island, the wealthiest districts, according to the Trust for Public Land.

Black and Latino children lag behind in access to swimming lessons and drown at higher rates. And indeed, many New York pools remain largely segregated.

Amid the tensions of the late 1960s, the city opened smaller pools in underserved black and Latino neighborhoods. But restrictions imposed in response to pool violence limit what people can take beyond locker rooms. Those rules created what Jesse Amaro, who lives in the Bronx, called “a prison yard mentality” when we talked to her as he waited to get into Crotona Pool one afternoon last summer.

Deputy Parks Commissioner Mark Focht said the city is working to improve pools in the hottest and most needy areas. Sixteen aging pools across the city have received upgrades costing nearly $5 million, he said, giving them the atmosphere of a country club or resort.”

But it’s fair to say that the greatest pools still fall short of past glory.

Is the problem too little money?

Eric Adams, first as a candidate and more recently as mayor, said he would adjust spending on parks to a new benchmark, 1 percent of the city budget. That would equate to about $1 billion, but his proposed budget included only about half that amount. His deputy press secretary, Charles Lutvak, said in an email that the budget represented “a down payment on his ‘Percentage for Parks’ promise” and that the full amount will be reached at some point while Adams is in office.

Dear Diary:

I live in Northern Queens and never drive to Manhattan if I can help it. But one Sunday afternoon when I was sitting at home, I remembered that when I had come home from work on Friday night, I had parked in a spot with street cleaning on Mondays from 9:30 to 11 am and that I had an appointment at 10 a.m. in Manhattan. on Monday.

I went out to try to find a place that didn’t require me to move the car the next day. After circling several nearby blocks, I realized that the only spots available would force me to do just that. Everything else was full.

Accepting my fate, I found a possible space in front of my building. It was near a fire hydrant and was actually big enough for two cars, but one was already parked there in a way that barely left room for mine.

However, I stopped and had started to back up when I realized the driver was in the car there. I got out of my car and went over to him.

“Are you going to be here until tomorrow morning?” I said. “I want to back up against you so I’m not in the fire hydrant zone.”

“What time do we have to move tomorrow?” I ask

“9:30,” I said, “but I’ll be gone long before then.”

“No problem,” he said. “Go for it.”

I jumped into my car and backed up 6 inches from his bumper. When I got out of the car, he called me.

He was holding a long thin package in a bag of white bread.

“Take this!” he said.

“What is?” I asked

“A baguette. I have two! It’s fresh.

“You did this?”

“Yes, enjoy it.”

“Wow! Thanks I will.”

I turned around and walked into my building, trying to decide what to eat with my fresh baguette.

G. Victor Paulson

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send shipments here Y read more Metropolitan Newspaper here.

I’m glad we could meet here. — JB

PS Here’s today’s Mini Crossword Y spelling bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

emma cricketDavid Moll and ed shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at

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