Congress approves Liberty Bond extension

Congress recently passed a five-year extension on a bond program that is expected to continue to spur construction in Manhattan. The $8 billion Liberty Bond program was set to expire at the end of 2004, but will now continue to help finance new construction projects.

New York City received the original Liberty Bond program as part of a $21 billion package of spending and tax provisions to help rebuild the city and stimulate the economy in the aftermath of September 11. The extension was included in President Bush’s 2005 federal budget. Although the extension was proposed more than a year ago at the request of New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it was not approved until this month.

The bond works through an advance refunding authority that allows the state and city to refinance existing bonds and lower interest rates. It also helps finance new construction projects in the downtown and midtown areas of Manhattan. Projects being built with funds from the bond program include a $225million, 52-story residential development at 2 Gold St. The $82 million development will include 368 studio and 30 1-bedroom apartments. Financing was also approved for a 410,000-square-foot conversion of an office building, which will be used for 476 residential apartments. Commercial buildings for the Bank of America, the Durst Organization and Goldman Sachs are also being built with the help of the Liberty Bond program.

“This program has been a critical tool in the rebuilding effort,” Pataki told Globe “The approval of this extension will ensure that we can continue to draw upon these vital resources and fully realize our vision for the city.”