This article was updated and modified on April 23rd 2019, following a review of our research for this series. Please see the methodology section below for details.*
With the 2018 tax filing season now behind us, we decided to follow up on our previous list of top 100 property taxes in the U.S. We once again turned to public record sources, aiming to see if any year-over-year difference in taxes tipped the scales for some of the properties included in our prior lineup, as well as to check whether there were any new entries or contenders for the top spots.
At first glance, the list does not look all that different. The 100 top taxpaying properties in 2017 are scattered across the same nine states, and not much has changed with respect to the overwhelming New York presence in the mix—77 of the top 100 U.S. taxes are for properties located in New York state. In 2017, they generated $2.2 billion in property tax revenue, accounting for 81% of the total contributed by all 100. The mix of property types should also be no surprise by now—our list features mostly office properties, sprinkled with mixed-use, industrial, retail, hotel, entertainment, and residential properties. We may very well see major changes in the property tax landscape in next year’s analysis, as the 2018 tax reform will surely make waves among the Top 100.
This year, however, a TriBeCa data center joined the ranks and entered the list at #97. Upon a closer look, we found that wasn’t the only surprise lying in store. While the top five taxpaying properties on the list remained unchallenged and unmoving, the rest of the deck was somewhat shuffled by changes in tax values, along with the presence of eight new entries. See the full list below, and read on to learn more about some of the peculiarities of the 2017 top 100 U.S. property taxes.
The New York Shuffle between a Suffolk Power Plant and a Manhattan Office High-Rise
There is an 80% difference between the first and the 100th tax values on our list. For the second year running, the highest property tax in the land was paid for the Northport Power Station in Fort Salonga, N.Y.—just over $82 million. Built between 1967 and 1977, the natural gas and conventional oil electric power generating station is the largest on the East Coast, and its distinctive 600-foot tall smoke stacks can be seen from afar, across the Long Island Sound. Northport is one of four technologically outdated and little-used plants for which the Long Island Power Authority reportedly pays $196 million in yearly taxes.
According to Huntington tax records, nearly 66% of the $82 million Northport Station property tax is levied for the Northport School District. With a lot riding on the top U.S. tax, there has been no shortage of controversy surrounding the property—despite an eight-year suit filed by LIPA in order to get the bills reduced by as much as 90%, the property tax on the Northport plant increased by nearly $1.4 million in 2017. Moreover, a Huntington town official has called for employing eminent domain to take control of the power plant, for the purpose of delivering electrical power to the public in a safe and cost-efficient manner. Hearings on both issues are expected to occur in June, and may influence whether the Northport Power Station remains #1 on our list for a third year.
Four of the eight new entries are Manhattan properties, and their combined property tax values amount to $67 million. In striking contrast to our #1 tax expenditure, the Energy Star-rated, 31-story Turtle Bay office building at 425 Lexington Ave., was billed nearly $16.5 million in property tax last year, earning the closing spot on our list of top 100 U.S. property taxes. Last bought for a little over $664 million in 2013, owner JP Morgan Chase is currently shopping the property, which is expected to fetch as much as $750 million. This Lex Avenue tower was designed by 1980s starchitect Helmut Jahn, who also dreamed up the CitySpire, International Plaza, Park Avenue Tower, and the America apartment tower at Second Avenue and 84th Street.
The Downtown Manhattan commercial property formerly known as the Western Union Building is another notable new addition to the list of top 100 U.S. property taxes—with a $16.6 million tax bill in 2017, the 60 Hudson St. data and colocation center entered straight in at #97 and is currently the only such property in the top 100. One of the most important internet hubs in the world, the 23-story, 1930s art deco building housed 70 million feet of copper wire in the telegraph age, and is now home to a 15,000-square-foot, secure-environment “Meet-Me-Room,” where more than 100 telecommunications companies (both local and global) interconnect.
The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village complex remained the only residential community in the mix.
New Chicago Office Tower Enters Top 100, Lands Directly at #83
The One Prudential Plaza office tower in Chicago was just five positions shy of entering our list of top 100 U.S. property taxes in 2016. In one fell swoop—following an 18% tax increase from $15 million in 2016 to just under $18 million in 2017, the 41-story Chicago Loop office property entered the list directly at #83. The 1955-built office tower was recently purchased in a $680 million package deal that also included the adjacent Two Prudential Plaza. According to The Real Deal, this marked the largest Chicago office building sale since 2015, as well as the largest acquisition ever made by Sterling Bay, a company best known for investing in the redevelopment of outdated properties—1K Fulton, 600 West Chicago, and 325 North Wells, just to name a few.
By contrast, the property that made the steepest descent on our list was Woodfield Mall—the Schaumburg, Ill., retail property shed $2 million off its property tax in 2017 and dropped 15 positions in the top 100, coming in at #68 overall, and boasting the 13th-highest U.S. property tax outside New York. The largest shopping mall in the state, Woodfield houses nearly 300 stores and restaurants, and is one of five Illinois retail properties owned by the Simon Property Group.
The Exelon Nuclear Power Generating Station remained the highest U.S. tax-paying property outside N.Y., and climbed four positions in the top 100, landing the 21st spot with its $36.6 million property tax bill in 2017. The Byron, Ill., facility provides power to the city of Chicago and is one of four Illinois industrial properties to rank among the country’s top taxpaying pieces of real estate—the other two entries are the ExxonMobil Joliet Refinery in Channahon, the Dresden Generating Station in Morris, and the Wood River Refinery in Roxana.
Tax Bill Reduction Pushes Atlantic City Hotel Down 12 Spots
Notable changes in rank among the seven hotels on our list culminate with the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.—with $2.6 million (roughly 11%) shaved off its 2017 tax bill, the property dropped a full 12 spots down to be the 62nd top-taxpaying property in the U.S., and the 10th outside New York.
The second-steepest descent among hotel entries was marked by one of Detroit’s most famous accommodations—with a less than 1% ($80,557) decrease in property tax compared to 2016, the MGM Grand dropped 11 positions (currently at #96) in the top 100, and landing at #22 among the top taxpaying properties outside of New York state.
In New York, however, the Marriot Marquis was the top taxpaying hotel in the country in 2016, and it has gotten even more expensive since—the hotel’s property tax bill increased 7% in 2017, amounting to a total of just under $40 million, and pushing the property one position higher in the top 100.
The Fremont Tesla Factory—Cali’s 2nd Property to Make Waves in the Top 100
One of this year’s eight additions made a more spectacular entrance than the others. True to Elon Musk’s “go big, don’t go home” form, a $19.4 million 2017 tax bill landed the Tesla Motors Fremont factory the #72 spot in our top 100. California’s only car manufacturer pays the 15th-highest property tax outside New York state for the facility at 45500 Fremont Blvd., and reportedly generated $5 billion in economic activity within the Golden State in 2017. Tesla Motors’ contribution is set to increase going forward, as the company is working on an expansion that will nearly double the size of the Fremont facility to almost 10 million square feet.
Anaheim, Calif.,’s biggest and most powerful corporate citizen climbed down 10 positions compared to our previous list—having paid $2.3 million less in 2017 property taxes, the Disneyland® Resort dropped from having the 12th to the 22nd-highest property tax in the country. The $35.6 million paid in 2017 was the second-highest property tax outside New York and is, according to the L.A. Times, about as much as the estimated annual revenue generated by the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, which was funded by the City of Anaheim and leased to The Walt Disney Co. for $1 per year.
*Following a review of our research methodology, the initial form of this article required certain modifications. Several entries were retroactively included on the list of top 100 taxpaying U.S. properties in 2017: #37 National Grid Port Jefferson, #46 Dresden Generating Station, #52 Con Edison Yonkers, #59 Merchandise Mart, #69 3 Bryant Park, #78 Con Edison Mount Vernon, #99 ExxonMobil Baytown Complex. As a consequence of these additions, the following properties no longer made the top 100 cut: Bellagio Hotel & Casino, 437 Madison Ave., 335 Madison Ave., 299 Park Ave., VIA 57 West, The Franklin, Independence Plaza North, the CBS Building. All mentions of these properties have been removed from the original text. Article corrections have also been made to reflect any changes in rank or rank difference compared to the 2016 property tax list, as follows:
- In the original list, 78 of the total 100 entries were New York state properties, whereas the revised list contains 77.
- The position of the data center at 60 Hudson Street was corrected from #91 to #97.
- 425 Lexington Avenue fell at #100 and the article was modified to mention this high-rise instead of the CBS Building, which held closing position in the original list.
- One Prudential Plaza was incorrectly presented as an existing entry in the 2016 top 100 list, in the original data set. Due to methodology revisions, this property only entered the top 100 property tax list in 2017. The article was modified to reflect this new context, replacing previous mentions of the property having climbed 23 positions compared to 2016.
- The position of the Woodfield Mall was corrected in the text from #64 to #68.
- Whereas the original list included eight hotels, the revised list only includes seven. The text has been corrected accordingly.
- The position of the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa was corrected in the text from #58 to #62 in the top 100, and from #8 to #10 in the list of top 30 taxpaying properties outside NY state.
- The position of the MGM Grand was corrected in the text from #90 to #96 in the top 100, and from #20 to #22 in the list of top 30 taxpaying properties outside NY state.
- The position of the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory was corrected in the text from #67 to #72 in the top 100, and from #13 to #15 in the list of top 30 taxpaying properties outside NY state.
We combined PropertyShark data with proprietary research to compile the information that was the basis of this article. Tax values for all property classes except “Transportation,” “Schools,” “Parks,” “Vacant,” and “Government” were verified with Assessor and Tax Treasurer official websites, in order to ensure the accuracy of the data, to the best of our ability. The lists presented do not include properties that are tax exempt, and the tax rates that are included reflect individual parcels. Properties labeled “mixed-use” can include office space, retail space, or other combinations of real estate. The 2017 Cook County, Ill., property tax values are estimated, and the Second Installment Values were calculated based on the 2016 First installment increase.
- 601 Lexington Avenue tax value is the sum of two parcels: 1-01308-1005 & 1-01308-1001
- 10 Columbus Circle tax value is the sum of two parcels: 1-01049-1002 & 1-01049-1004
- 399 Park Ave tax value is the sum of two parcels: 1-01308-1101 & 1-01308-1102
- Bloomberg Building tax value is the sum of three parcels: 1-01313-1001 through 1-01313-1003
- 300 North LaSalle tax value is the sum of two parcels: 17-09-405-008-0000 & 17-09-405-004-0000
- D&D Building tax value is the sum of two parcels: 1-01332-0001 & 1-01332-0037
- Disneyland® Resort tax value is the sum of two parcels: 08219026 & 08219019
- 237 Park Avenue tax value is the sum of two parcels: 01300-0014 & 01300-0006
- Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant tax value is the sum of two parcels: 155800332301 & 155800332300
- National Grid Port Jefferson tax value is formed out a sum of 2 parcels: 8901302 & 8900030
- Merchandise Mart tax value is formed out a sum of 2 parcels: 17-09-403-001-0000 & 17-09-403-002-0000
- ExxonMobil Baytown Complex tax value is formed out of a sum of 18 parcels: 410220020405, 410220000020, 410220020220, 410220000157, 410220020400, 410220020404, 410220020378, 410220020221, 410220020399, 410220000024, 410220010348, 410220000008, 410220100017, 451440010065, 410220010046, 410220000109, 410220020140, 451440010045