The BQX project, which would connect the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts via streetcar, received praised from many when it was first proposed; but finding money to fund it may be tougher than expected. The Daily News received a leaked memo which stated there are construction logistics and financial problems facing the project.
Mayor de Blasio, who proposed the BQX project, admitted last week that his plan for the BQX to be self-funded through tax revenue from higher real estate values may not pan out. The memo obtained by the Daily News laid out a tough assessment of the construction logistics and financial problems facing the project. After the major admitted the plan for the BQX is not working out, an article in Crain’s laid out an idea for the city to sell air rights in the Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood to raise money for the project.
The mayor now news to decide whether to reduce the scope for the BQX or to find a different way to increase funding. It has been speculated that real estate values will increase according to the proximity to the streetcar. With more residences built close to the streetcar, the more real estate tax revenue the city can earn. Crain’s suggested the city should encourage developers to build big residential towers in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is owned by the city. Just like its neighbors Long Island City and Williamsburg have done it previously.
The once-industrial Navy Yard is now an alternative to Manhattan’s overpriced waterfront community, with its refurbished shipyards and warehouses. The neighborhood is attracting more and more New Yorkers from all boroughs. The BQX streetcar could be another compelling reason for people to move there.
The Navy Yard has about 15 million to 20 million square feet of development rights. Air rights mean landowners can sell any unused development rights to nearby lots, and then those new rights owners can build the greater density desired and exceed height and setback requirements. What does this mean? If the city decides to sell air rights to potential developers, the city could raise enough money for the trolley project.
There isn’t a clear answer as to how much money needs to be raised for the BQX to become a reality, but one thing is true, the one way to raise real estate tax revenue in New York City is to build upward.