Policy: Entitlements

'He's the master of public subsidy': The life of a real estate developer

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Illinois,Indiana,Entitlements,Subsidies,Tax Reform

The real estate industry may be the single biggest beneficiary of tax credits, carve-outs and subsidies on the federal and state level.

Realtors, developers and mortgage bankers dig in deep every time a tax reform is on the table, because they have the most special carve-outs to protect, including the mortgage-interest deduction, first-time homebuyer credits, even the carried-interest situation.

So if you're trying to get big in real estate, it makes sense to get cozy with government. Remember Tony Rezko and then-State Senator Obama's string of legislation to help developers?

Over in Indianapolis, a different developer is catching some attention for his business ambitions and his political aggressiveness. The Indiana Business Journal tells the story of Ersal Ozdemir, "master of public subsidy."

Some highlights:

Ersal Ozdemir regaled state legislators in recent weeks with his pitch to capture tax revenue to finance an $87 million downtown soccer stadium. ...

His networking helped yield millions of dollars in subsidies for his developments in Indianapolis and Carmel, legislation tailor-made to save him property taxes, designation as a minority business enterprise that appears to stretch statutory definitions, and more than $4 million in federal stimulus funds to develop dozens of rental properties he owns outright.

“He’s the master of public subsidy — getting public dollars into projects,” said a former high-ranking Keystone employee who spoke with IBJ on condition of anonymity. “But he wants everything to be completely closed book. His experience tells him you can do both.”

Right-leaning blog Advance Indiana has been critical of Ozdemir for a while. They have harsher words about the developer, whom they say "has seized control of the Marion County Republican Party."

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