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Citylights Residents Hold Rally at City Hall, Seek Tax Relief

July 17, 2018 By Christian Murray

Elected officials and Citylights residents held a rally on the steps of City Hall today where they called on the Mayor to help them lower their property tax bills.

The residents of the 522-unit coop building, located at 4-78 48th Ave., face a 60 percent hike in their monthly maintenance bills over the next five years stemming from a jump in their property taxes.

The building’s 20-year tax abatement provided by the state is being phased out and the building’s assessed value has almost doubled in two years.

“My maintenance is going from $2,600 [per month] this year to $3,900 [per month] in 2022,” said Shelley Cohen, the treasurer of the building, last week.

Today, the attendees—accompanied by State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer—held signs that read “Save Citylights” and “You promised affordable housing.” They also held up a giant tax bill that read “return to sender.”

While the units now fetch between $500,000 and $1 million, many residents argue that they don’t have the cash flow to cover the big jump in maintenance and would be forced to sell. A significant number of residents say that they moved into Citylights in 1997 and that the state assured them that their units would remain affordable. None of the units, however, are income restricted.

In 1997 when the co-op was launched the state provided a 20-year tax abatement—similar to the 421 a tax-exemption program. The coop didn’t have to start paying property taxes until this month.

The tax is now being phased in at 20 percent per year until 100 percent of the assessed taxes are payable starting July 1, 2023. This year the building is subject to $800,000 in taxes, which will go up to $5.8 million over five years.

The total maintenance costs of the building will go from $10 million this year to $16 million in 2023 with the hike.

The tax is based on the building’s assessed value, which is determined by the city. The assessed value has gone from $51.7 million in 2016 to $101.6 million in 2018. The co-op claims that the valuation is inflated and is appealing it with the Department of Finance. The coop board says it is being assessed as if it were a high-end rental building located nearby.

The residents are also looking for the state to change the terms of the tax abatement–to increase it from 20 years to, say, 35 years.

The state has said that it is willing to negotiate the terms of the abatement but needs the city to approve such discussions. The city has yet to do so.

“Both the City and the State need to step up and do the right thing for the residents of Citylights,” Van Bramer said today. “It is within the Mayor’s ability and authority to make changes to the ways in which property taxes have been assessed at Citylights. It’s time to step up and work to help the residents of Citylights stay in their homes.”

The City issued the same statement on the issue today that it did a week ago.

“We are aware of the issues surrounding the Citylights building and will continue to work with the property owners and board to the extent we legally can. The New York City Tax Commission is reviewing Citylights’ appeal for the property’s 2018-19 tax assessment. If the Tax Commission determines that the reductions are warranted, DOF will make the adjustments.”

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33 Comments

D.

Are we Russian peasants here? The mostly irrationally hateful remarks and multiple likes for hate speech based on kicking the frail, the elderly, the area middle class residents and the really wrong remark about the state of the building’s infrastructure, deserve burying deeply, like odious ordure (poop).
Publicizing the unfair taxation of coops should be across the board important. Mayor Di Blasio owns a one-family home, presently rented out. Mayor Bloomberg, who razed housing for homeless youth–one in each borough–during his reign, spawning a major feeder for “hotels-in name-only,” to absorb so many who cannot get traction to afford a roof overhead, care nothing for the true middle class who share liability and risk in the corporate structure. Bloomberg owns–oh, several buildings, here and elsewhere.
Citylights is beautiful, sound, upgraded, and will endure a good hundred years–very solidly built. (Architect: Cesar Pelli.) The greed and envy crowd–surely peasants, stuffed with envy and fear–may need to check on who is leading them to this mud and grime they are soaking in.
It’s bad enough one, sole, solitary co-operative on the waterfront is besieged by the traitorous Queens West Development Corporation, and a NYC co-op tax policy designed to break the middle class. Those empty condos bought by non-citizens, the over-ten million crowd? Yes, they can pay.
Folks grab your private parts and man/woman up. Fight for us all. Those glamorous billionaires and their friends are killing us all.

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Anonymous

Russian peasants? Lol…what an insulting and racist comment to post. How do you expect people to feel sympathy for your cause when you post such derogatory epithets? How do you expect politicians to side with you when you use such slurs? Don’t make Citylights look like a bunch of bigots!

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Concerned Resident

I really hope you don’t live in the neighborhood. I know there are crazy folks everywhere but the thought of standing next to you in the neighborhood creeps me out.

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rikki

What kind of MORON pays $500,000 for a kondo/co-op that has a tax abatement ending soon?

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Let them file for bankruptcy. These places should have never even sold for more then $200K tops with this looming in the future…..GREED GREED GREED MORONS STUPID FOOLS

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brooklynmc

The bad news is your well below average cost of living may come to an end. The good news, you can most likely sell for a huge cash profit.

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D.

Lots of off the wall commentary. People have to support each other, not succumb to bigotry, envy and petty back biting. Perhaps there are those who wish to organize to resist and fight wrongs, among the negatives. Do it. Show positive courage. Property valuations for taxes is disproportionate, onerously high for coops across the City. Speak up!

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R. Truth

Listen, everyone who bought into Citylights knew what the tax abatement situation was going in. I personally have always hated these tax deals that the city made with fat cat developers, but I am having a hard time sympathizing with these folks. They should’ve sold their units and moved when they had a chance. Good luck trying to unload them now!

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Anonymous

Actually a lot did and those that brought really got the worst of it. They brought in at close to market value and absorbed the underlying mortgage that’s built into the maintenance. Essentially they overpaid a lot and now have to deal with the high taxes on top of it. The initial concept of Citylights was well intended but the way queens west developed over the past 15 years plus the way units were sold at rates way too high (considering the buyer was buying debt and not equity) really messed it all up. Blame greedy owners or unscrupulous real estate brokers or a broken tax system but in the end quite a few people will have some tough choices to make.

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Buyer beware

I see your point, but how do you blame the devs and not the buyers who failed to their homework? (speaking of buyers of units after the initial 90s offering who purchased closer to the areas going rates) I investigated buying an apt in LIC and was enticed by the slightly lower prices of the city lights units up for sale. Didnt take much digging to uncover the extreme maintenance and back story.

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LIC lady

How can you compare a building that’s basically falling apart with all the new high-rise luxury apartments (that are rentals!) with Citylights? It’s ridiculous. That’s exactly what’s happening. There are MANY retirees and disabled folks who live in the building and will not be able to continue living there because of this comparison. Just because it’s happening everywhere else in the city doesn’t mean it has to continue happening. The city has the power to change the rules and they won’t. Talk about greedy and corrupt! Thanks de Blasio.

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Liberty

I think EVERYone should seek a tax relief. Make the income tax 0. That would be a relief. The IRS was invented in 1913. The US was better without it for so long!

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Astoria Resident

But how will we pay for the “free college” and “free” healthcare and other “free” stuff? ;P

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No tax relief for us!

This “free stuff” is not for the taxpayers. I have been paying for Medicare and my Blue Cross/Blue Shield, GHI, Etc. for years and years. Now when I need the “free” I am not covered! Free college? where? This “free stuff” is not being seen my myself, mine or anyone else I know. Seems to be “free” only for “dreamers and “undocumented”! Yet rent, property taxes and housing costs have risen every year!

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Ponzi

See! The Government is a ponzi scheme. Everyone pays in and rarely is it seen by anyone else.

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John O'Reilly

Every dolllar these people don’t pay in property taxes is paid by the rest of us. The City Council doesn’t reduce the City’s expenditures to reflect what these folks are not paying, the burden is shifted to other property owners. They and the co-op knew all along that the balloon in property taxes was on the horizon and they should have planned accordingly.

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MRLIC

The FAKE MRLIC wrote the July 17, 2018 comment on Bowling & Greedy Luxury Condo Developers. My take on this is: They knew in 20 years the abatement would end. The city told them it will remain affordable they said. Why trust the city? I wouldn’t . How long do they want the abatement for ? FOREVER? Why should the middle class & poor keep subsidizing (by losing tax money) these rich developers and developments? End all Tax abatements. Let the rich paay their fair share for rents and taxe when it comes to Luxury Developments and their own private community away from the lower classes. SNOBS.

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MRLIC

Yes greedy luxury developers like Trump need to pay their fair share. I assume he must have paid his fair share in taxes, which is why he had to hide his tax returns from the entire country.

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PayYourTaxes

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. We tripled our money but we don’t wanna pay our taxes. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

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Anonymous

In the late 90s queens west was developed and touted as one of the largest urban renewal developments in decades with the emphasis of providing housing for the middle class. That was then and this is now. Queens west has become a high end highly desirable area so all that garbage about affordable living is out the window. Those in Citylights that are getting squeezed out can just join the club of the other generations of New Yorkers that got pushed out. So it goes. NYC caters to two classes, rich and poor. The middle class rides the LIRR or metro north until they reach retirement and go south. On the bright side your property value has shot up such that you’ll have a nice chunk of money to move with.

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D.

Maintenance is above market due to a high mortgage and payment of a land rental to NY State. Bizarre that NY City decides to treat the NY State-paying coop as the enemy.
Oh, wait, De Blasio hate Cuomo, and so on, and so on.
Real estate industry insiders are shoving and pushing to throw retirees out the door, onto the homeless market–oh, there is a market for the homeless–at area motels.
Thank you, Mayor De Blasio.

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MRLIC

Also end the abatement on decent bowling in LIC. These greedy NY luxury condo developers, like MURDER Durst or TRAITOR Trump, just want there money and don’t deserve our trust. Unless they run for president of course.

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vcdcgad

These people need to go away, their apartments are worth almost a million dollars.

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young_man!

Agreed.
They knew about the expiring tax abatement when they purchased their condos and now need to start paying their fair share rather than being subsidized by the rest of us.

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jvrocket31

These apts are no way near a million dollars and not everybody who lives there bought in 97. The building generates 10 mil a year and we are paying 6 mil in taxes, sound fair to you? Plus we are paying a ground tax of 1/2 a mil while all the luxury buildings pay a dollar, sound fair? Haters like you need to go away.

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Luis

I call BS! They knew or should’ve known the tax abatement was coming to an end. LIC is a highly desirable neighborhood & their property value surged over the last decade. Most if not all will make out like bandits when they sell. Enough of this crap. Can we focus on the real people that need help like senior renters instead of Co-op millionaires.

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Whoops

Who’s gonna buy their Apts now? With this kind of press all the dirty laundry is out in the open! Big mistake tenants!

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