Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on December 13, 2021
As the sun sets on the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, co-op and condo advocates are ramping up pressure on the City Council to renew the coveted J-51 tax breaks at the council’s last scheduled meeting of the legislative term, on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
“The J-51 program plays a key role for New Yorkers in co-ops and condos all across the city,” says Bob Friedrich, co-president of the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council, which represents more than 100,000 housing units throughout the city. “For so many families, the J-51 program makes the difference between ensuring a good quality of life and worrying whether your building could fall behind on much-needed maintenance or capital projects. The City Council must get the job done to renew this critical program, and state officials must also step up and ensure that J-51 is not only extended but strengthened over the long term.”
The City Council is considering a bill that would bring New York City in line with the state Legislature, which last summer extended the J-51 tax abatements for capital projects completed by June 30, 2022. For buildings that qualify, their property tax assessment is frozen at the rate before the improvements were made, which results in a lower property tax bill. The bill before the City Council, like the state law, would make the tax breaks available to buildings with an average assessed unit value of $40,000, up from the previous limit of $35,000. (The assessed value is part of the formula that determines a property’s tax bill; it is a percentage of the market value.)
City Council member Barry Grodenchik, a Democrat from northeast Queens who is one of the bill’s four sponsors, says the J-51 tax breaks are a “critical issue” for many of his middle-class constituents. Grodenchik, who will step down when his term expires on Dec. 31, adds, “I look forward to joining my constituents as we continue pushing to secure broader reauthorization of the program at the state level and avoid the need for short-term renewals in the future.”
Beneficiaries of the tax abatements are not confined to the outer boroughs. "For decades, the J-51 program has been an important tool for preserving affordability at our co-op," says Ambur Nicosia, board president at Penn South, an affordable co-op in Manhattan with 2,820 apartments. "The program has enabled Penn South to maintain and upgrade our aging infrastructure without pricing-out our lower-income residents. As we face the need to replace building systems, we are relying on the City Council to uphold its commitment to affordable housing by extending this critical tax abatement program."
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