Hundreds of Activists and Workers Join Elected Officials to Induct Acadia Realty Trust into Corporate Tax Dodgers Hall of Shame for City Point Project
Groups Demand EDC Disclose Subsidies and Job Details on Downtown Brooklyn’s Largest Development
New York, NY—Approximately 300 construction workers, community members, labor leaders, activists and elected officials gathered today on the steps of City Hall to induct Acadia Realty Trust into the Corporate Tax Dodgers Hall of Shame. The mock ceremony was intended to draw attention to the numerous subsidies that Acadia is receiving for Brooklyn’s largest development, City Point, while providing few community benefits in return.
Acadia is slated to receive millions in subsidies to develop prime real estate in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. In return for public assistance meant to help distressed communities, the company is displacing locally-owned small businesses and hundreds of workers with luxury high-rises. In the process, it’s creating low-wage, no-benefit jobs and partnering with a developer who has a troubling history of shoddy construction on city-sponsored affordable housing developments. Development is expected to begin this week on Phase II of the project.“Acadia is the latest in a line of highly profitable companies taking advantage of public subsidies while returning very little to the public,” said Nathalie Alegre, an organizer with ALIGN. “Acadia is not creating the good local jobs and truly affordable housing that downtown Brooklyn needs. We want to know just how much taxpayer money this company is abusing and we want greater accountability.”
The induction ceremony was complemented by the addition of Acadia onto the Hall of Shame website at www.GettingOurMoneysWorth.org, which draws attention to the corporations throughout New York City and New York State that receive tax breaks but fail to create jobs, or create only poverty-wage jobs in return. A Hall of Shame Honorable Mention was also awarded to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC).The City Point project has long stirred controversy, and recently, a coalition of unions and other groups launched a campaign to fight for fair wages and benefits at City Point (www.citypointjobs.com).“Before the City deploys any additional public funding for the City Point project, elected leaders should demand that Acadia live up to its responsibility to create middle class jobs that strengthen our communities,” said Terry Moore, Business Manager of Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46.
“We deserve full transparency from both Acadia and the New York City EDC regarding the terms of the jobs that City Point is creating and whether these jobs strengthen our communities or tear them down.” The EDC is the city agency responsible for awarding City Point development rights to Acadia. Community and labor activists contend that the huge, three- phase building project has already displaced approximately 50 locally-owned small businesses and more than 200 workers from the former Albee Square mall.“Acadia’s City Point project pushed out small business owners and affordable housing to make way for new luxury development,” said Wanda Imasuen, member of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE). “The City could have leveraged taxpayer dollars to benefit Brooklyn residents, but instead they let a super wealthy developer like Acadia take a walk on delivering good local jobs and affordable housing.”
Acadia is receiving Tax-exempt Recovery Zone Bonds, City Council grant, Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program (ICIP) tax credits and a 421-A affordable housing real estate tax exemption. Although problems in how public financing is reported make it difficult to estimate the total value of the subsidies Acadia will receive, the coalition gave a conservative estimate of at least $1.5 million.So far in return for subsidies, Acadia has committed to creating 108 construction jobs and 68 permanent full-time-equivalent jobs in Phase I of the project—far fewer jobs than previously existed at the Albee Square mall. There are no commitments that the permanent jobs at City Point will pay living wages or prioritize local or displaced workers.Acadia selected BFC Partners to develop the 15-story residential tower that includes so-called affordable housing as part of Phase II of City Point, slated to start construction this week.
Advocates raised concerns about BFC’s history of construction-quality issues on city-subsidized affordable housing developments, as well as the amount of affordable housing the project would deliver. Acadia is currently seeking a $400-million tax-free loan from the city’s affordable housing financing agency, the Housing Development Corporation, for Phase II of the project.Elected officials including State Senator Eric Adams, Assembly Members Walter Mosley and Nick Perry, and Councilmember Steve Levin participated in the event and echoed advocates’ calls for greater community benefits, accountability and transparency on the City Point project. Acadia Realty Trust joined seven other corporations on the Hall of Shame website, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch for its subsidy abuse in New York City. As part of the Getting Our Money’s Worth campaign for good jobs, not corporate giveaways, the coalition plans to continue adding Corporate Tax Dodgers to the Hall of Shame website—nominations are being accepted at www.GettingOurMoneysWorth.org.
ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York’s mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities, and an accountable democracy for all New Yorkers. Our work unites worker, community, and other allies to build a more just and sustainable New York. ALIGN was formed in April 2011 through the merger of New York Jobs and Justice and Urban Agenda. Visit www.ALIGNny.org for more information.
The Getting Our Money’s Worth Coalition is a broad coalition of public policy experts, government watchdogs, labor unions, community and religious organizations, and concerned small business owners, workers and taxpayers. The statewide coalition is anchored by ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, the Buffalo-based Coalition for Economic Justice and Long Island Jobs with Justice.