Quinn Leans Further Left on 421-a Bill

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has reached a compromise with a dissident faction of City Council members that had pushed for ending tax breaks for market-rate real estate developers.

The compromise, reached on Tuesday morning, will expand the so-called exclusion zone for the 421-a multifamily housing tax incentive to more parts of East Harlem, Carroll Gardens, Sunset Park, and Bushwick, meaning that new buildings in those areas will only receive tax abatements if they include affordable housing, Jonathan Rosen, a spokesman for Housing Here & Now, a coalition of housing advocacy groups, told The Real Estate.

quinn2 Quinn Leans Further Left on 421 a Bill
Quinn works the Council.

He said, in addition, the compromise bill requires developers who tap into the city’s new $400 million affordable housing trust fund to keep their units affordable for 50 years or provide for them to be sold to tenants or to the city.

Quinn came Tuesday morning to the 20-odd members who had backed a stronger reform bill by David Yassky and Annabel Palma and asked for nine of their votes, according to an individual briefed on the conversation. Quinn already had a majority of Council members behind her bill, but needed more in order to prevent the appearance of a sharply divided Council. (Most Council votes pass unanimously or nearly so.)

It is unclear just how many of the 20 will support Quinn, but reportedly enough of them will. Another source said that some Council members are still trying to get further concessions, including a requirement that developers would need to make 30 percent of units in core Manhattan affordable to low- and middle-income folks, instead of the current 20 percent, in order to qualify for tax breaks.

- Matthew Schuerman