Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has pledged to see through his plan to tax vacant lot owners, a move that could affect upwards of 10,000 lots throughout the city, with the highest concentration on Staten Island. According to the Independent Budget Office, the plan will raise yearly taxes on vacant land by an average of $15,300 after five years, with the hope that the cost of inactivity will be too much to bear for many owners. In theory, this will force owners to either develop land or sell, providing the city with much-needed housing.
De Blasio estimates that the plan would eventually generate around $162 million annually, funding nearly 4,000 units of affordable housing. However, according to Crain's, others feel that it could discourage developers from "patiently assembling large blocks of property needed for big developments by effectively driving up their property costs. That could, perversely enough, limit new housing production."
But de Blasio claims that the plan will not target all developers, but rather, only owners that hoard land and wait for prices to rise. Additionally, Martin Dunn, who runs Dunn Development Corp., believes that in addition to generating revenue, the tax hike would reduce the number of vacant lots, which often attract crime, garbage and vermin, and lower surrounding property values.
· "De Blasio tells lot owners to put up or pay up" [Crain's]