Mayor Bloomberg agreed this week to give Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner a $200 million bonus.
The tax break is part of a package that purportedly seeks to cut back tax incentives to real estate developers in upscale areas and to encourage the construction of moderate income housing.
This week’s deal, involving Bloomberg and leaders of the state Assembly and Senate — promises to modify legislation passed in June that includes a $300 million bonus to Ratner, now reduced by one-third. The bonus is in the form of a Ratner-only “carve-out” in 421-a tax abatements.
In June, news of the Ratner bonus stirred an uproar even among Ratner supporters, who termed it excessive. Ratner-booster Bloomberg said it would “hurt the very people everybody talks about helping and gives tax breaks to a developer that doesn’t need them and which we don’t have to do.”
But this week, Bloomberg urged Gov. Spitzer to sign the bill — which includes the full $300 million Ratner bonus on the promise of legislative leaders to revise the bill after they reconvene in the fall. Legislators said that Spitzer would receive both versions of the proposed law.
In the first version of the bill, the so-called “Ratner carve-out” allowed the developer to receive a 25-year 421-a tax break for all 16 of his buildings — even the ones that include no affordable units.
The new version of the carve-out reduces the length of the tax break to 15 years and requires that for each 1,500 units built, 20 percent must be affordable.
The father of the bill, Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Bushwick), declined to comment on the Atlantic Yards provision, hailing the larger bill as a long-awaited victory for low and moderate- income city residents.
“This is a compromise and a very good bill that will create affordable housing all across the city,” Lopez said.
Affordable housing advocates praised the bill. “It will create more affordable housing around the city,” said Deb Howard, executive director of the Pratt Area Community Council. As for Ratner, she said, “he got lucky.”
Bloomberg declined to comment on the deal’s impact on Ratner.