Plans have been in the works for some time for a very large office tower at 125th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem, known as “Harlem Park.” More recently, news broke that Major League Baseball has plans to become an anchor tenant.

According to Good Jobs NY, under the proposal, CV Harlem LLC (care of Vornado Realty), would receive almost $9 million in tax breaks for the project, and the New York City Industrial Development Agency proposes to provide Major League Baseball with $2.4 million in Sales tax exemptions for the development.

GJNY delivered testimony at an IDA public hearing on the project today, calling into question the strategy of providing subsidies to a project that seeks a dramatic zoning change ahead of a proposed rezoning. (As our readers know, 125th Street is about to get a major zoning makeover). More from their testimony on this issue, and the lack of community process, after the jump.

“GJNY is confused by the proposal to provide tax breaks for a project that is in the midst of a rezoning. Rezoning not subsidies is the tool that dictates the types of business that takes place in a neighborhood.

The IDA board should ask serious questions prior to voting on this project. Among them: How does this commercial development fit into the rezoning proposal? What are the opinions of current residents and businesses in the community? What impact will this development have on current businesses? Absent of understanding these issues the IDA will subsidize a project in a vacuum.”

It continues…

“GJNY doesn’t question the importance of the high paying jobs that are expected to come with the MLB project nor the importance of these jobs to the city’s economy. But one would expect the city to leverage these tax breaks to ensure job opportunities, internships and apprenticeship programs for New Yorkers who otherwise aren’t eligible for these jobs.

Another area of concern is the IDA’s failure to contact local elected officials and community boards with information on proposed projects. For example, how do IDA proposals complement or possibly compete with the city’s efforts to assist low-income and unemployed New Yorkers via numerous city lead initiatives at the Department of Small Businesses or Commission on Economic Opportunity?”

Read the full text (PDF) here.

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