By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — In the face of sharp tax increases, Battery Park City residents are fighting to keep their neighborhood affordable.
Residents of 11 condo buildings are negotiating with the Battery Park City Authority to mitigate the planned spike in their ground rent, a fee all neighborhood property owners pay. Without intervention, some BPC condo owners are slated to pay an extra $300 a month to the authority as soon as next year.
Last week, the authority rejected the solution that the condo owners and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver proposed, which would have spread the planned increases over 15 years, rather than hitting the residents all at once. The authority made a counteroffer that mitigated the increase somewhat, but not as much as the residents wanted.
Now, the residents are reviewing the authority’s offer and will likely make another proposal of their own, seeking compromise, within the next two weeks.
“It’s moving in an OK direction, but it’s still not close enough to say we’re done,” said Anthony Notaro, 58, a condo owner who is involved in the negotiations and was recently appointed the authority’s board. “We still have some work to do.”
Battery Park City residents pay among the highest taxes in the city. In addition to paying the equivalent of property taxes, condo owners also pay a civic facilities fee, a maintenance fee and ground rent on the land beneath their buildings.
The ground rent varies from building to building, based on agreements between the authority and individual developers, and has scheduled increases built in. Some residents now pay as little as $30 a month in ground rent and are slated to pay over $300 a month next year. Other residents are already paying about $200 a month and could see their payments more than double next year.
When Bill Thompson took over as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority earlier this year, he said he wanted to keep the neighborhood affordable and ensure residents are not at risk of losing their homes.
At an authority board meeting on Tuesday, Thompson said that in addition to residents, the mayor’s office and the Real Estate Board of New York are also urging the authority to reach a decision.
“It’s an issue that has attracted a lot of attention,” Thompson said.
He suggested that the board meet in closed session within the next few weeks and possibly vote on a plan as soon as July.