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.


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