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NEW YORK CITY-Governor George Pataki signed two bills into law that are designed to spur the construction of new apartment buildings and extend tax abatements for eligible commercial properties throughout New York City. The governor says the laws will help the Lower Manhattan area.

The first new law amends the Private Housing Finance Law (PHFL) to let the city provide low-interest loans for apartment construction on privately owned property, while the second new law authorizes the City to extend the benefit and eligibility periods for two tax abatement programs for eligible commercial properties.<P "This is critical for Downtown and for all of New York City," says Marolyn Davenport, REBNY senior vice president. "Thousands of housing has been created."

New York City’s Participatory Loan program was established in the mid-1970s to reverse neighborhood deterioration by combining the City’s low-interest capital loans with money from private lenders to rehabilitate housing.

This new law is a component of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s five-year, $3 billion plan to rehabilitate and construct 65,000 housing units in that it permits the Participatory Loan Program to be used for new construction as well as for rehabilitation.

The new commercial real estate law authorizes the city to extend the benefit and eligibility periods of two successful tax abatement programs for eligible commercial properties that were originally adopted in 1995. One program has helped revitalize Lower Manhattan by attracting and retaining industrial, manufacturing, and commercial tenants, while the second program has encouraged the relocation to and expansion of businesses in Manhattan north of 96th Street, and in the other four boroughs.

In other news, Pataki signed into law a bill that will provide increased protection for Long Island’s Pine Barrens. The law provides new enforcement authority and penalties under the Long Island Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve Act.

The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission is comprised of the Suffolk County Executive, the supervisors of the Towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton, and an appointee of the Governor. While the Commission had authority to develop and implement a comprehensive land use plan for the Pine Barrens, it was not until Governor Pataki signed the legislation today that the Commission was provided with specific authority to enforce the Maritime Reserve Act.

The new law provides enforcement authority to the Commission, the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, and Southampton, villages within the Central Pine Barrens area, and the New York State Attorney General.

Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens is more than 100,000 acres within the central and eastern portions of Suffolk County that includes parts of the Towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton. The center of this area contains pitch pine and pine-oak forests, coastal plain ponds, marshes, streams and provides deep flow recharge to the aquifer from which Long Island draws significant portions of its drinking water. This region contains one of the greatest concentrations of endangered, threatened and special concern plant and animals species in New York State. Since 1995, the State has invested nearly $48 million to acquire and preserve approximately 6,600 acres in the Long Island Pine Barrens.

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