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Nassau IDA rejects $109M in Long Beach project tax breaks

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday denied an application by developers for $109 million in tax breaks to build two 15-floor apartment towers off the Long Beach boardwalk.

IDA members voted 3-2 to deny the tax breaks, effectively halting plans to develop the oceanfront property. The two board members who voted in favor of the tax plan were union representatives Michael Rodin and Chris Fusco.

Rodin said it was “a great project for Long Beach and the middle-class working people.”

Developers with Manhattan-based iStar Financial declined to comment after the meeting or say whether they planned to submit a new application for the vacant property after two years of negotiations and delays.

Developers with iStar, who own the property, have said they cannot build the towers without county-assisted tax breaks over 20 years.

The IDA also declined an application from iStar last year for $129 million in tax breaks over 25 years, after facing community opposition.

“This was one of the most reviewed, examined, considered applications since we’ve been at the IDA,” IDA Executive Director Joseph J. Kearney said. “At the conclusion of these hearings, the board determined the financial assistance requested in this instance wasn’t warranted given this circumstance.”

The proposal included spending $336 million to build 522 oceanfront apartments and 11,000 square feet of boardwalk- level retail space on the property known as the Superblock, between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards.

Community members have been divided over the proposal. While critics have blasted the plan for being too rich for taxpayers, organized labor groups have touted the job-creation aspect of the development.

Thursday’s meeting was packed with about 200 union members who booed and shouted “shame” as the application was voted down, with another 500 union members watching outside.

“They just lost a million hours of manpower and 500 jobs. It’s an extreme disappointment,” said Richard O’Kane, president of the Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades Council. “This property is going to continue to collect dust. There are no benefits of this. There are a lot of losers tonight.”

IDA members are appointed by the county executive, including three members by current Republican leader Ed Mangano. Mangano reiterated Thursday that he was opposed to the current tax plan, which includes $99 million in property tax exemptions and another $10 million in mortgage recording and sales tax relief.

Other elected officials including Nassau County Legis. Denise Ford and state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) praised the board for rejecting tax cuts.

“I am pleased that the concerns of Long Beach residents have been heard and that the IDA did what is best for Long Beach,” Kaminsky said. “This process has proved that nothing is stronger than the voice of our community.”

Developers have said the project would generate $119 million in new economic activity for Long Beach and $4.8 million in sales tax revenue for Nassau.