Power Play for Belmont
As the effort to build a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park, along with a retail village and hotel, has moved forward, the hockey team itself has been relatively quiet.
There’ve been no big rallies or news conferences over the last year, like there were for a 2011 referendum to build a new arena with taxpayer dollars. There’ve been no jingles, like there were in the days of the Lighthouse Project, the previous effort to redevelop the Nassau Hub with a fully renovated Nassau Coliseum. (Anyone remember “Meet Me at the Lighthouse?”)
But now, that might be changing. A fan-generated electronic petition to “Support New York Islanders New Home at Belmont” recently popped up on change.org, and quickly garnered hundreds of signatures. But on Tuesday, season ticket holders and other fans received an email from the team itself -- asking them to sign on.
“Thousands of fans have already given their support for a home for the Islanders,” the email said. “Let’s keep the momentum going and show the world that the Islanders family is strong and thriving. Please support the Road to Belmont by signing the petition and sharing it with your family and friends.”
On top of that, multiple fans reported that during an event for season ticket holders Tuesday night, team representatives were going around with iPads, encouraging fans to sign the online petition. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 6,000 people had signed.
What’s behind the sudden push? Representatives from New York Arena Partners did not comment by publication time, and a team spokesman did not return calls.
The timing is a bit strange. The official public comment period on Belmont’s redevelopment closed on March 1. So, the e-petition likely won’t be included in any of the public documentation to show the response to the project, and probably wouldn’t be part of any official analysis or breakdown of support or opposition to the project.
But Empire State Development spokesman Jack Sterne said the petition reflects the Belmont development’s potential impact.
“This project is good for fans, good for local residents, and good for Nassau County’s economy,” Sterne said. “It’s a win-win-win -- which is, incidentally, what we’re all hoping the Islanders will do this season.”
So, perhaps the Islanders’ effort is just a way to galvanize fans, get people excited about a new arena at Belmont, and create some positive public relations.
If that’s the case, where’s the jingle?
Randi F. Marshall
Assessments in a new light
The Nassau County assessment system is so complex that even experts have to triple-check their facts, and New York Senate Democrats, even ones from Nassau, are not experts.
So it’s surprising that when they put a plan in their budget proposal this week to help the county with its reassessment troubles by kicking in more than $200 million in state money via matching funds, they didn’t consult county officials.
“We just received this bill at 5 p.m. on Tuesday,” County Executive Laura Curran told The Point Wednesday afternoon. “It was not discussed with us prior to that. I have requested more supporting information in order to better understand the bill.”
It seems that Nassau County’s Democratic senators and their conference leaders, looking for a popular play after a rough two months that included staying largely silent as the Amazon deal fell apart and failing to get a permanent tax cap, were freelancing.
Read more here.
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The pied piper of NYC
The NYC pied-à-terre tax is the hot new thing these days, gaining some attention after the January news of a Central Park South penthouse purchase for $238 million by a billionaire hedge funder with multiple other expensive homes.
Then there’s the desperate search for new state revenue-generating mechanisms to fund the MTA. Last week, state budget director Robert Mujica floated the tax as an option to raise as much as $9 billion over a period of time should tax revenue generated by legal weed be lost in the budget shuffle.
The oft-introduced pied-à-terre bill from Manhattan Sen. Brad Hoylman would allow NYC to add a graduated property tax on non-primary residences whose market value is $5 million or more. It would start at 0.5 percent of the excess over $5 million, going up to 4 percent of the amount over $25 million.
The tax is opposed by the Real Estate Board of New York. But who exactly would it apply to?
The Point took a look at estimates from city Comptroller Scott Stringer that suggest the tax could raise more than $650 million annually.
Stringer’s office used primary residence tax abatement eligibility to estimate that the city has around 5,400 non-primary residence units whose sales-based market value is above $5 million. The largest chunk of those -- 2,230 -- fell in the $6 million to $10 million valuation. The number of residences drops significantly when you get to the $15 million range, though the comptroller estimated 505 units with a value of more than $25 million.
Where are these swanky, empty units? Stringer’s office didn’t provide location information but Hoylman’s bill cites Census data suggesting that in one 42-square-block quadrant of central Manhattan, some 30 percent of the apartments are vacant 10 months in the year.
Ghost Town, NYC.