1.Guarantee investments in sustainable infrastructure upfront, with real sources identified to pay for them, and a timetable that is synchronized with other planning measures.
Guaranteeing Infrastructure Investments > Recommendations
As part of any area-wide rezoning action, the City should commit to a comprehensive infrastructure plan, coordinated with Federal, State, and local actors. The plan should commit to the projects needed for a sustainable future and identify the appropriate financing streams to pay for them. These projects are described in detail below. A variety of potential funding streams could support their implementation, but they must be secured and coordinated, including:
The parties responsible for the pollution of the Canal – most significantly National Grid and the City of New York – are anticipated to fund the dredging of the Canal, as well as significant improvements to water quality through two storm water retention tanks.
Other planned public investments
Some public monies are already committed to specific projects, such as high-level sewers, the City’s Green Infrastructure Plan, and a new school for the area in the School Construction Authority’s 5-Year Capital Plan. Flood protection via a storm surge barrier, if warranted, should be provided through Federal resiliency funding authorized after Superstorm Sandy. Additional resources necessary for the infrastructure plan must be committed in the City’s 10-Year Capital Plan and not simply through a non-binding Memorandum of Agreement letter that accompanies a land use action.
A Gowanus “tax increment financing” (TIF) mechanism
In a TIF program, when property values increase, the higher taxes that are generated from the increase are captured and committed to area-wide infrastructure improvements. TIFs have been used around the country and beyond, but are not common in New York City. Gowanus is an excellent place to pilot this type of financing program, given its high real estate values and significant infrastructure needs. TIF funding should be used to address the most pressing infrastructure needs, and the ones that have been the most difficult to fund, such as water management improvements for the area’s NYCHA housing.
A TIF district, especially one that includes sites where affordable housing, mixed-use space, and waterfront access would be mandated, presumes significant value increases. To clarify whether this is possible, the organizers requested that the City Council Land Use Division staff perform an analysis of the land value increases associated with the Lightstone Group project currently under development. That analysis is discussed in the section “A Pathway for Responsible Growth”.