Bill de Blasio is seeking to implement an idea he introduced in April: to increase the assessed value of vacant residential properties in order to "force owners either to put it to use and build housing or to sell it to those who will," reports Joe Anuta. "By increasing the cost of inactivity to prohibitive levels, the hope is that more land can be put back into use and much-needed housing can be built."
"It would drive the price of land down and increase development, to the extent the tax increases are significant," predicted Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services. "The more expensive [vacant land becomes to hold], the less of it you will get—that's Economics 101."
"Some observers believe, however, that such a move carries big risks," notes Anuta. "For openers, it could discourage developers from patiently assembling large blocks of property needed for big developments by effectively driving up their property costs. That could, perversely enough, limit new housing production."