Amityville considers tax incentives to encourage commercial and residential development

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Hoping to revive Amityville's downtown, village trustees will consider a tax incentive for redevelopment of commercial property with new residential space.

Trustee Nick LaLota, who proposed the idea at Monday night's board meeting, said it would "catalyze good growth" on the Broadway Avenue corridor. "Think about a ground-floor retail space with residences on the second or subsequent floors," he said.

The measure, scheduled for a public hearing Sept. 8, would grant a 100 percent tax exemption on improvements costing $10,000 or more done to convert nonresidential into mixed-use property for eight years, with a graduated rate over the next four years.

The measure would likely have a three-year sunset clause and apply only to properties on Broadway from Railroad Avenue three blocks south to Ireland Place, LaLota said, putting all of the potential residential units a short walk from the Long Island Rail Road station.

That zone deliberately excludes the Brunswick Hospital property on Broadway and Louden Avenue, he said. Expected tax revenue from a planned mixed-use redevelopment there could be substantial. Mixed-use developments have been approved or proposed in a host of other Long Island communities in recent years.

In Amityville, it would be a "Back to the Future situation," said Mayor James Wandell, who is 69 and grew up in the village. "Before they widened Broadway, that's what we had, we had stores and apartments above," he said.

Warren Cohn, owner of the Amityville Men's Shop, a clothing store, and co-chairman of the Downtown Revitalization Committee, said the incentive would be a "tremendous move forward" particularly when paired with other measures such as traffic calming on Broadway.

Together, he said, they could attract younger residents to live and shop in the area, walking to downtown stores instead of driving out of the community.

But some residents opposed the idea, calling it a boon to property owners and antithetical to the suburban way of life.

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"No one in suburbia lives in apartments unless they can't afford to live anywhere else," Stephanie Andrews said. "This is not New York City. We didn't move out here to be in New York City."

She went on to decry the "chic" vision of a walkable village. "What is there to visit? Nail places, that's about it," she said.

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