Jeffries Turns on Atlantic Yards

Hakeem Jeffries, the freshman Assembly Member, was once accused of being a toady for the developer of Atlantic Yards, Forest City Ratner. But he had gradually become more critical, and the last minute carve-out in the 421a housing incentive bill that The Observer reported on Wednesday made him fairly seethe at the project's cost to taxpayers.

“The Atlantic Yards project has feasted on government funds for far too long,” he said in a statement this afternoon. “Enough is enough. There is absolutely no justification for treating Atlantic Yards better than any other development project in New York, when Forest City Ratner has already received $300 million in government subsidies.”

Mr. Jeffries, along with five other Assembly members, voted against a technical amendment to the 421a reform as a protest. He missed a vote yesterday morning for the main 421a reform bill, which greatly expanded the number of neighborhoods in which developers will have to include low-income housing in new apartment buildings in order to qualify for tax abatements.

He told The Observer Friday that he was coming back from speaking at graduation ceremonies when yesterday’s vote was taken, but he would have voted in favor of it had he been present because he does support strengthening the tax incentive program.

Both bills included the Atlantic Yards provision, which may be worth between $100 million and $170 million to Forest City in taxes that it would have otherwise had to pay. But since today’s amendment primarily concerned minor revisions to the carve-out, Mr. Jeffries said, it gave him a chance to register his disapproval.

Assembly Member Joan Millman, who represents Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights, also opposed today’s technical amendment. Last night, state Senators Liz Krueger and Frank Padavan opposed the original bill. Ms. Krueger, an affordable housing advocate representing Manhattan’s East Side, told The Observer she had many problems with the bill, including the Atlantic Yards section.