Occupying Subsidized Space

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Photo by Good Jobs New York

The ability of Occupy Wall Street protesters to remain in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan for weeks while Occupy groups in other cities are being evicted from their encampments is, ironically, based on the fact that the park is private rather than public property.

But it’s a special category of private property. The park was created more than 40 years ago as part of a deal in which U.S. Steel, which was building an adjacent office tower now called One Liberty Plaza, was allowed to put additional floors on the structure in exchange for providing an open space for the public. The space is not subject to the same rules, including curfews, that apply to city parks.

The zoning variance is not the only factor that complicates the status of Zuccotti Park.

Brookfield Properties, the current owner of One Liberty Plaza and the park, benefits directly and indirectly from a host of taxpayer-funded subsidies. The New York Daily News reported on some of the direct grants received by Brookfield after 9/11, and further details on the full extent of subsidies are in the chart below and in our Database of Deals.

Brookfield, one of America’s largest commercial real estate companies and its premier tenants, took advantage of city and state economic development programs. Millions of dollars in economic development grants earmarked for rebuilding after the attacks of September 11, 2001 went to Brookfield and some of its tenants at One Liberty Plaza (NASDAQ and the Royal Bank of Canada among them). Some tenants also received discretionary tax breaks from the New York City Industrial Development Agency.

A breakdown of the $176 million given to Brookfield Properties, its subsidiaries and tenants in Lower Manhattan is here.

The subsidy figures don’t tell the whole story. There are other economic development programs that Lower Manhattan firms benefit from, but how much is earmarked for a particular firm isn’t publicly known.

Among the many reasons why the Occupy Wall Street protesters should be allowed to remain in Zuccotti Park is that they are occupying taxpayer-subsidized space.

Thanks to Elizabeth Bird and Dan Steinberg for their assistance.

4 Responses to “Occupying Subsidized Space”

  1. Brent Pittman Says:

    Both the Republican and Democrat parties are going in the wrong direction. To SAVE the US entrepreneurial ranking, credit rating, stock market, the $, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and the police, fire, k-12 public school, library, military, defense and homeland security budgets while CUTTING government spending, debt and present tax rates without causing inflation or high interest rates; both State and Federal parties would be winners if they would compromise with the following strategies:

    Create good paying American jobs with good benefits for American citizens by repealing all sales taxes & replace the lost revenue with an import tax/tariff on imported labor & manufactured goods. Increase the federal income tax deduction from $5700 (2010) to $15000 for American citizens. Increase the IN state income tax exemption for non-dependent adults from $1000 to $5000, up to $15,000; depending on disabilities and age. All standard deductions and exemptions should be adjusted for inflation. Collect an export tax on natural resources/commodities such as coal, oil, natural gas & grains.

    Repeal all wealthy individual, business and new development/construction tax incentives such as tax abatement, tax increment financing, grants, deductions, credits, tax free bonds, earmarks and loopholes that are creating poverty wage American jobs or exporting jobs. OR, require these corporate welfare kings to pay a living wage, minimum wage of $15/hour with good benefits; adjusted for inflation. Collect mandatory impact fees (IN code: 36-7-4-1300, only infrastructure today); but, expand the code to collect impact fees for schools, libraries, parks, police and fire. Search for Brent Pittman at flyergroup.com, LinkedIn.com and google.com for more information and details.

  2. Kenneth Thomas Says:

    It looks like every little retail tenant of the buildings got some kind of grant. These are some pretty amazing numbers.

  3. aquart (@aquart) Says:

    I think very few of us regret taxpayer money used to help businesses survive after 9/11. Downtown was blocked off and no one could do business even if the ash didn’t cover everything. We didn’t downtown to be another 9/11 casualty.

    • Bettina Damiani Says:

      Thank you for your comment. We don’t disagree that subsidies should have been allocated after 9/11. What we disagree with is the lopsidedness of how those resources were allocated: large, profitable businesses over small ones.

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