In the News: The Mayor’s Push for His 50-Story Jail Tower

••• The Port Authority “is ready to step in and rescue [the] half-built Greek Orthodox church and shrine at the corner of the site. ‘The Port Authority could facilitate construction based on appropriate commitments or could assemble a group to take over construction. We could also assist with redesign of the project to make it financially feasible,’ Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton wrote last month in a letter to the leaders of the church, including its head in Istanbul. ‘If completion is not possible, we would assist in any way possible to find an alternative configuration to complete the project.’ […] The Archdiocese has said it will take another $38 million to finish the shrine.” —New York Post

••• “Although the city has changed its proposed site for a towering jail on the edge of Chinatown, many of its opponents are unappeased. Last week, the mayor himself came to the neighborhood to face those critics, head on. The closed-door, round table meeting with two dozen community leaders and elected officials on Dec. 18 follows a decision by the administration to scrap its heatedly opposed plan for a 40-story facility at 80 Centre Street. Instead, it wants to tear down the two nearby structures that house the current Manhattan Detention Center, at 124 and 125 White St., and build a jail that is triple its size—as tall as 520 feet, or around 50 stories. […] (Accounts of the closed meeting here are based on a recording made public by Jan Lee, one of the participants.)” How about meeting the actual public next time? —Tribeca Trib

••• The New York Daily News on Google’s plans for Hudson Square: “A source familiar with the development [at 550 Washington] says that applying for tax relief known as the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program is part of [owner Oxford Properties’] game plan. The program, run by the city Finance Department and baked into state law, grants property owners who undertake renovations a 10-year tax break—a magic wand that for purposes of valuing real estate for tax assessments pretends for the first five of those years that the renovations barely happened, and then slowly increases the tax bill up to what it should have been in the first place. […] The more a renovation project spends, the more the abatement is worth. Based on Google’s declared commitment to lay out more than $1 billion for capital improvements at three locations, the tax relief could be worth upward of $150 million, one tax abatement consultant estimates. […] And that’s not the end of the aid Google could be legally entitled to. Oxford Properties made another clever move when it bought the property back in January: It purchased only the portion of St. John’s Terminal south of Houston St., leaving the northern segment, and scaled-down plans for housing there, with its original developer. As it happens, businesses that significantly improve properties south of Houston St., already have Manhattan employees and expand their downtown workforce by at least 25% are entitled to claim a tax credit worth $3,000 a year, for a dozen years, for any employee who moves in at the outset—but only for those workers relocated from outside New York City. Google presently has no plans to pursue the employee bounty, known as (deep breath) the Lower Manhattan Relocation and Employment Assistance Program for Special Eligible Businesses, potentially worth tens of millions more. It still has three years to apply, should it choose to.”



  1. Maybe the Port Authority could find a site for the 50 story jail tower…