Friday, October 8, 2010

UPDATE: Gelber Proposal -- Watchtower to Generate Funds for Brooklyn Bridge Park

(See UPDATE at the bottom)

Last month we discussed our proposal to generate funds for Brooklyn Bridge Park by funneling taxes from nearby properties currently owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses (the Watchtower) to the park, after the JW's sell the properties. (The JW's have already announced their plans to sell their 25 or so properties in Brooklyn Heights).

The city doesn't currently collect taxes on these buildings (the Jehovah's Witnesses are a religious group), so the city wouldn't lose any money by earmarking the eventual taxes towards the upkeep of the park.

Yesterday the NY Post reported: "During a closed-door session at Borough Hall yesterday, some civic leaders and elected officials discussed having the city revise the waterfront park’s project plan to include dozens of DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights properties that the religious group has put up for sale."

"Brooklyn Heights activist Tony Manheim – who is leading this charge — said the city should buy the Witnesses buildings, convert them into luxury condos and then put tax revenues from the sales toward the park’s anticipated $16.1 million annual maintenance costs."

We don't think it needs to be so complicated:
While Manheim proposes the city jump in and start converting the buildings, we don't think that the city needs to invest money in this. It just needs to earmark all future property taxes towards the park as the buildings are sold to developers (who would have plenty of incentive to put up their own money to convert them).

The tax stream would then continue forever, rather than just being a lump one-off every time a building was sold.


Marilyn Gelber, president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, presents a proposal that combines the best aspects of these ideas. She told the Brooklyn Eagle:

"Wouldn’t it make sense for the public sector to complete the original planning vision for the park by negotiating an agreement to purchase of all the Jehovah’s Witnesses property and then coordinate the sale and disposition of this property to the private sector and use the proceeds and the annual real estate taxes for the maintenance and upkeep of the park"

Her full proposal here.

- Here Are Some Ideas to Generate Funds for Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Go to McBrooklyn's HOME PAGE.


Anonymous said...

In order for the City to buy the property the City would have to issue debt. When the properties are sold, this debt would have to be paid off. There would not be much in terms of "proceeds". However, the City would be responsible for debt service while it hold the buildings. Sounds like a boondoggle.

Anonymous said...

Tend to agree. Don't see why the city has to get between the Jehovah's Witnesses and developers. Just collect the tax money for the park after a developer does the conversion.

Anonymous said...

Holt on Gelber proposal: