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D.A. Urges Property Tax Reform

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It’s a lament almost as common in the neighborhood as complaints about bar noise — property taxes are way too high. Just two days ago, the owner of Mama’s Food Shop said that his property taxes had nearly quadrupled since he took over the business around 2007. Now, District Attorney Cyrus Vance is urging reform of the assessment system for the taxes, which a grand jury found is rife with abuse. “Some unscrupulous individuals and entities routinely try to cheat the City out of this valuable revenue stream by filing false information with City agencies,” he said in a press release. In one case cited by the grand jury, “60 percent of property owners surveyed who derived income from signs posted on their property failed to report that income to the Tax Commission when they sought to reduce their taxes,” the statement noted.

Making It | Neil Mendeloff of Plantworks

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Plantworks.

plantworksShira Levine

It ain’t easy being green. Neil Mendeloff, a onetime Parks Department employee, and his wife Verna, a terrarium and bonsai specialist, opened Plantworks on Mercer Street some 38 years ago; it moved to Waverly Place two years later and eventually put down roots at 28 East Fourth Street, where for the past 28 years it has helped beautify many a Manhattan home, university, restaurant, government building and hotel. But now, Mr. Mendeloff says, his rent may double. Unless his landlord extends an olive branch, his lush wonderland of Florida palm trees, Japanese maples, and Oregon pines could end up buried six feet under. We asked him how he’s managed to make it this far.


You have a lot of space in the heart of some high-traffic blocks. What are you working with size- and price-wise?


I’ve got about 3,600 square feet here and started out paying about $2,800 a month. We’ve been up to about $15,000 a month recently. There have been slight reductions during recessionary times though. I also have the yard next door and have a separate landlord for that which is an additional cost. It’s an additional $6,000 a month. Read more…