Same Soundview complex. Same style condo.
Only difference is, these owners are still forced to pay a heftier property tax bill.
They’re residents of Harbour Pointe, section 3 of Shore Haven Condominiums, with amenities that include a pool, clubhouse and a scenic view of the Long Island Sound. Section 3 residents at the complex were ineligible for the state’s 421a tax abatement program, offering tax relief to homeowners.
There are roughly 16,000 units in the Bronx that fall under the 421a tax program, a way for working families to maintain ownership of property they couldn’t otherwise afford.
The Harbour Pointe residents’ denial is considered a slap in the face since owners in sections 1 and 2 at Shore Haven have been able to reap the program’s benefits since the condos went up in 1988, well before the city tightened its qualification rules.
The changes took effect midway into the construction of Harbour Pointe, comprised of three-story buildings on Soundview Ave., thereby denying tenants to take part in the program despite Benchmark Management submitting paperwork for building permits well before the change.
“It’s literally in print in the original filings permits, and for the description of the project itself,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who was alerted to the problem after folks complained the management company guaranteed tenants would qualify.
Residents, fearing the city, did not want to comment.
For his part, Crespo spent a year wrangling with city agencies to include Harbour Pointe into the program, meeting regularly with officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings, who ultimately decided against exempting Harbour Pointe.
Councilwoman Annabel Palma tried to fix the issue in 2006, but was shot down after legislators complained it would set a precedent for other condo developers demanding they be included into the program.
Crespo took the matter to Albany, presenting a bill this year that would allow Harbour Pointe tenants into the program. While Sen. Jeff Klein managed to have the same bill passed in the Senate, Crespo’s bill was stalled in committee.
“The same political problem that Annabel confronted with the City Council is what I’m confronting in Albany,” said Crespo, insisting the bill was designed to just include Shore Haven tenants.
“I’m not asking for 421a to be included for this new development,” said Crespo. “I’m saying this development should have had it four or five years ago when the changes took effect.”
Though the session is closed, Crespo intends to present the same bill once again in hopes of giving a tax break to tenants.
“They do it for Madison Square Garden, they do it for other people,” said Crespo. “But they can’t do it for the average homebuyer.”
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383