Trump Village Tower Developers Issued Building Permits Days Before 421-A Expiration

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The group behind the controversial 40-story tower set to rise at the site of Coney Island’s Trump Village Shopping Center rushed to secure building permits in the days before the expiration of a lucrative tax break for developers, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Our goal is to get our permits as quickly as possible,” Dennis Hasher, counsel for Cammeby’s International Group, which is behind the 418-foot tall skyscraper planned for 520 Neptune Avenue, told the paper. “Real-estate taxes are a very significant cost.”

The state’s laws regulating rent increases and eviction policies for the more than two million New Yorkers who live in rent-regulated housing, as well as the 421-a property tax abatement for developers, expired Monday night after Albany lawmakers could not reach an agreement to extend them.

The Assembly, which in May passed legislation strengthening the rent laws, approved a motion on Monday to extend the rent regulation laws for 48 hours to allow for more negotiation, but the Senate did not back the move. Instead, the Republican-led Senate voted Monday to extend the rent regulation laws for another eight years, keeping both vacancy decontrol and the 421-a abatement.

In May, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an overhaul of the 421-a program, a reform that would end eligibility for condos and require developers throughout the city to make 25 percent to 30 percent of newly constructed units available to low- and middle-income residents. The ambitious plan would also establish a “mansion tax” on condos, co-ops and homes that cost more than $1.7 million.

“No more tax breaks without building affordable housing in return,” the mayor said in a statement. “This can’t be a city of just penthouses and luxury condos. We are turning the page, and making sure the same pressures that have pushed New Yorkers out of their neighborhoods are harnessed to build the next generation of affordable housing.”

The administration estimates that the reform package would add 60,000 affordable homes to the city over the next 10 years.

Though the matter is far from resolved, in anticipation of Monday’s deadline, the WSJ reports that, in April, 5,546 New York City residential units received construction permits from the Department of Buildings [DOB] — setting a record for the most permits issued in a single month over the past five years, according to Census Bureau numbers. A similar surge in zoning approvals occurred in June of 2008, right before a series of limitations on the 421-a program took effect, notes the paper.

The last-minute zoning approval for Cammeby’s International Group delivers a blow to locals and activists who have been fighting construction of the skyscraper, which will be significantly taller than any other structures in Southern Brooklyn.

In January, residents who live near the proposed tower — which will 544 rental units and three levels of commercial space — raised concerns about environmental contamination found at the site, overcrowding at local schools, and a large elderly population in Coney Island that relies on the shopping center for independence.

Cammeby’s applied for a building permit for the Coney Island tower in January, but it wasn’t approved until June 1. After four separate reviews by the DOB, the permit was finally issued yesterday.

[With additional reporting by Anna Gustafson]

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