Modular construction plan delays IDA vote on Huntington hotel

A rendering of the Huntington Hotel is seen

A rendering of the Huntington Hotel is seen in an image from March 4, 2013. Photo Credit: Joseph Scarpulla

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Concerns about the possible use of construction materials and workers from outside Long Island led Suffolk County Thursday to postpone a vote on whether to give tax breaks to a hotel proposed for Huntington village.

Developers of The Huntington Hotel are seeking $3 million in tax breaks from the county's industrial development agency. Most of the savings would be off property tax bills over 15 years.

The $10.4 million project involves converting the former Huntington Town Hall at 227 Main St. into the hotel lobby, a lounge, meeting rooms and one extended-stay room. An addition behind the historic building will have 54 hotel rooms and parking underneath.

Jay Dobbs, one of the developers, said components of the addition would be constructed in Pennsylvania and then assembled on site using a large crane. The hotel is expected to open next summer.

Several IDA board members asked Dobbs how he intended to comply with the agency's Long Island First policy, which requires the use of local workers, goods and services wherever possible.

Dobbs said no local contractor could produce the modular components for the hotel addition. He also denied that the concrete used comes from China.

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"We will do whatever we can to promote local participation in this project," Dobbs said, without providing details.

IDA treasurer Peter Zarcone Jr. successfully urged fellow board members to table the application until the hotel developers specify their commitment to using local workers and construction materials.

The developers "are taking away a lot of local labor . . . there will be very little work for local guys," said Zarcone, an officer in Local 66 of the Laborers International Union.

Kevin Harvey, another IDA board member, agreed, saying he wanted more information. "What are the hard numbers? They were very vague on the construction details," said Harvey, an officer in Local 25 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union.

There also was unanimity among board members that Huntington village needs a hotel and that the project is a creative use of a historic building.

IDA chairwoman Joanne Minieri said it would consider the hotel's aid application once the developers provide more information.

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