New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News NYC developer in controversial Upper East Side rezoning could get $100M in tax breaks by Michael Gartland

NYC developer in controversial Upper East Side rezoning could get $100M in tax breaks

A real estate developer who’s pushing for a controversial rezoning in partnership with the New York Blood Center would receive $100 million in additional benefits under a plan recently outlined by Mayor de Blasio’s administration.

De Blasio has come under fire in recent days for backing the rezoning because he owes $435,000 to a lobbying firm that represents the Blood Center, a nonprofit blood bank that’s partnering with Longfellow Real Estate Partners to expand its headquarters.

In a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) dated Nov. 10, de Blasio’s director of legislative affairs, Paul Ochoa, makes clear that city’s Industrial Development Agency would provide $100 million in tax breaks to Longfellow under the development deal.

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who represents the Upper East Side district where the rezoning is being proposed, said the benefit is just one more sop de Blasio is offering a well-connected developer.

Kallos said that “$100 million is a lot of money. It comes out to more than a billion in subsidies over decades, and I want to know how long it’s going to take for the city to get a return on our tax dollars because I don’t think we ever will.”

It’s far from the first time de Blasio has had to weather attacks from Kallos, who has suggested that the mayor’s debt to Blood Center lobbyist Kramer Levin Naftalis amounts to a bribe that could be having undue influence over the mayor in his support of the rezoning.

But Team de Blasio has countered that in January, the mayor made it a priority to make the Big Apple a center of life sciences, in large part as preparation to better face COVID and any future pandemics.

The Blood Center rezoning would accomplish that, according to de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz.

“Months ago, the mayor invested $1 billion toward making New York City the life sciences capital of the world,” Schwartz said. “It’s the right way to rebuild our economy and prepare for public health challenges. And if major companies want to innovate and create jobs in the heart of our city, then we’ll vet their projects and work with them to identify appropriate incentives they qualify for.”

Schwartz also noted that Longfellow is entitled to the tax break and that such breaks exist to encourage agendas like the one outlined by de Blasio in January.

Rob Purvis, the Blood Center’s executive vice president and chief of staff, said the center and Longfellow are “aggressively pursuing funding opportunities to support” the project “through city programs for which it may be eligible including [city Economic Development Corp.) LifeSci funding and [Industrial Development Agency] benefits for development projects.”

“[New York Blood Center] and Longfellow are having positive conversations with the city, but no formal application or agreement has been made yet for city funding for this project,” he added.

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