Today’s New York Times features a fascinating look into big-money New York and the constant reach-arounds given by local government to the corporations that make this city what it is, for better or worse. “Companies We Keep, and Pay For” describes the subsidization process, in the form of giant rent and tax breaks, handed on bended knee to mega-corporations, specifically in media and finance — also known as the city’s bread and butter.
Illustrious publishing company Condé Nast gets the brunt of the article’s intro, based largely on rumors that Si Newhouse is considering relocating his company to the new One World Trade Center from their decade-old Times Square digs. But the Times itself is equally complicit in somewhat shady dealings of this sort, to the tune of $26 million. Seems worth noting, no?
Jim Dwyer opens his piece by presenting a story of excess in the not so distant past, when Condé’s 4 Times Square was marked with “No Parking” signs, reserved for their private town cars. But that was small potatoes:
For all the giddy wealth that ran through the city before the economic crash, prized commercial real estate was often subsidized through state and city tax benefits, sometimes in special deals made behind closed doors.
The publishing company scored $10.8 million to move about 10 years ago and is now considering doing it all again. And taxpayers will again sweeten the deal. Now, all of this is done ostensibly to keep corporations from leaving New York. But as Dwyer notes, no one’s going anywhere, and it’s laughable to pretend otherwise:
Many of the threats to leave were barely disguised feints, and sometimes not even that. Condé Nast, for instance, publishes some of the most exalted titles in the magazine business, and the chances that the company would move out of Manhattan are slim to none. Other businesses equally unlikely to leave the media capital — The New York Times Company, CBS, Reuters, NBC, News America, ABC, McGraw Hill, Viacom, Hearst — were also given public money.
Ah, the New York Times Company! Grouped with others “unlikely to leave the media capital,” but also “given public money.” Strangely, that’s as far as Dwyer’s piece goes in referencing the paper in which the words appear. He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone …
Times media writer David Carr asked this morning on Twitter, “Does Conde Nast really need our help obtaining another Death Star?” linking to Dwyer’s piece, to which journalism professor and O.G. blogger Jeff Jarvis responded, “NY Times received $26 million in tax breaks for its jungle gym,” meaning the Times‘ massive new building that they, uh, can’t afford. Ruh-roh:
And the New York Times received a subsidy of $28.7 million for a printing plant in Queens in 1993 and a subsidy of $18.7 million (the Times itself put the figure at $26.1 million, and noted that opponents said the subsidies could be as large as $70 million) in 2001 for its new headquarters building near Times Square in Manhattan.
The financial industry — Goldman, JPMorgan, etc. — were even worse, but everyone knows media is basically finance but with less millions. Billions? Ugh. And different drugs. As for the Times, there’s something about throwing stones and living in glass buildings …