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Brooklyn Hotel Gets City Nod on Funds

Brooklyn Hotel Gets City Nod on Funds

The Wall Street Journal 11/10/2010


New York City officials, worried that former football star Emmitt Smith may miss a year-end deadline to seek federally backed tax-exempt financing for a Harlem hotel, gave the green light on Tuesday for another hotel project, this one in Brooklyn.

New York City Capital Resource Corp., a board controlled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, approved a proposal to grant $15 million in tax-exempt financing to Brooklyn developer Two Trees Management Co., which is planning to build a 73-room hotel on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg.

Officials have also lined up yet another candidate for the funding: a 40,000-square-foot retail and catering hall connected to the Arverne by the Sea housing development in the Rockaways section of Queens.

The developers of that project are seeking $26 million in tax-exempt financing. A hearing is scheduled for December.

Last month, city officials voiced concern about the progress of Mr. Smith’s firm, ESmith Legacy Inc., on plans for an $81 million hotel and retail project planned for the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue.

Brian Morris, co-founder and president of ESmith Legacy Inc., said he remains confident the financing on the Harlem hotel will close, as required, by year-end. “We look forward to getting our project started soon,” he said.

Mr. Morris declined to comment on city officials’ concerns about his firm’s ability to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. The board gave final authorization to ESmith to seek nearly $20 million in financing on Tuesday.

The backup plans were intended to ensure New York projects will benefit from the federal financing package before it expires on Dec. 31. But recently, another project expected to get some tax-exempt financing has collapsed, leaving about $51 million in financing available. That would be enough to fund Mr. Smith’s project, the Brooklyn hotel and the Queens project, should they all close by Dec. 31.