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Glen Cove IDA hearing on Garvies Point bond, tax breaks draws crowd

Friday, June 24, 2016

This article first appeared in Newsday, written by David Olson

Opponents of a proposed redevelopment of Glen Cove’s waterfront came to City Hall on Wednesday night to blast a plan to help fund the project with more than $120 million in bonds and tax breaks, while supporters touted the development as a needed stimulus to the city’s economy.

More than 150 people packed the City Council chambers as the quasi-municipal Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency held a public hearing on Uniondale-based developer RXR’s application for financial assistance for its $960-million project, called Garvies Point. The company is planning to build 1,110 condominiums and apartments, public parks, marinas, restaurants and retail and office space.

Agency board chairman and Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello said a vote on the financial assistance would be scheduled within 10 days.

The $97 million from the bonds, and interest on them, would come from future tax revenue from the project and pay for public amenities and infrastructure, including the parks and a rebuilt bulkhead.

Bondholders, not the city, would shoulder the risk, said Michael Zarin, an attorney for the city. In addition, the IDA would exempt RXR from sales, use and mortgage taxes worth an estimated $24 million and reduce property taxes by a still-to-be-determined amount.

RXR says the project won’t be built without the assistance.

A principal of a Manhattan-based real estate consulting firm hired by the city testified that the assistance is “reasonable and justified.” Zarin touted the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that experts estimate the project would generate beyond bond costs, and the more than 1,000 construction and permanent jobs that would be created.

But Amy Marion, a Sea Cliff attorney for 105 area residents who filed a lawsuit seeking to block Garvies Point, questioned where those and other numbers came from. She called for the public release of the analyses and assumptions that support the city’s rosy predictions. Otherwise, she said, residents can’t properly assess their validity.

Glen Cove resident Jack Vilella said if supposed public benefits of the project are being disclosed, so too should RXR’s expected profits on Garvies Point.

“If RXR is going to step off this project if they don’t get the $97 million from Glen Cove, is that really a bad thing?” he asked.

Garvies Point supporters said money for the bonds would come from tax revenue the city won’t receive unless the project is built.

Matthew Cohen, vice president of government affairs for the Melville-based Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, called Garvies Point “a smart and sensible project” that would spur economic growth.

Resident Maxine Mayreis, who owns a chiropractor business in Glen Cove, said that during and after construction, the additional workers and residents would help her and other local business owners.

“They buy food here, they do their banking here, and they may need a chiropractor here, too,” she said.