Spire Education

Next time you see one of those purple NYU flags flying from yet another building, don't just take it as a sign that soon lower Manhattan will be unfit for habitation by the non-college-going public. More significantly for New Yorkers as a whole, every building acquired by educational institutions is also removed from the city's property-tax rolls. According to "Fatal Subtraction," a new report from the budget watchdog City Project, the resulting tax loss to the treasury amounted to $385 million in 2005--and is growing by about 12 percent each year.

If NYU and Columbia's metastasizing scholastic empires are the obvious targets, though--the two institutions, according to City Project, combine for 45 percent of the city's educational tax breaks--the 125-page "Fatal Subtraction" contains some surprises as well. Take, for example, the Chrysler Building. Built on land owned by Cooper Union, the hubcap-bedecked home of giant Quetzalcoatls has never paid a dime in property tax, even though the educational tax break is supposed to be limited to buildings used for classrooms or student and faculty housing.

Article Continues on the Voice's CityState blog, Power Plays . . .

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