Suffolk moves on $70M sale-leaseback plan

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Suffolk’s Judicial Facilities Authority this week will begin seeking proposals from bond counsels, underwriters and financial advisers to move ahead with the $70 million sale-leaseback of the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, even though state legislation has yet to be signed.

Martin Cantor, agency chairman, said the six member board voted last Thursday to issue a request for proposals from Wall Street bond experts, an appraiser and a firm to undertake an environmental assessment. Companies have 14 days to respond.

“We’re off the starting blocks and moving ahead,” Cantor said. “We want to move all this as quickly as feasible so the county gets its money as soon as possible.”

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The authority board expects to hire the needed experts at the its July 18 meeting and hopes to be ready to sell bonds by October or November, Cantor said. While the county can advertise for advisers, it cannot move ahead further until legislation is signed by the governor.

Luis Montes, assistant deputy county executive, said that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has not yet signed the measure but is expected to give his approval within the next several weeks.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone included the $70 million in proceeds from a sale-leaseback in the 2013 budget. But the county needed the State Legislature to allow the judicial authority to undertake such a deal, and permission was granted last week in the end-of-session flood of bills. The authority did a similar sale-leaseback on the Cohalan court complex in Central Islip.

Under the bill, Suffolk County will sell the building to the authority for $70 million in upfront cash. The authority will then issue bonds to pay for the cost of the building, and the county will repay the bonds over the next 15 to 20 years.

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If appraisals for the 12-story Dennison office building fail to meet the $70 million target, the county, under the state legislation, can also undertake a sale-lease back for additional county buildings across the street on the north side of Veterans Memorial Highway.

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