The developer of an apartment building in Huntington Station won preliminary approval on Thursday for $760,400 in tax breaks over 15 years from Suffolk County.
The board of the county’s Industrial Development Agency, in a 6-1 vote, granted tax aid for Northridge Square, a 16-unit apartment building to be constructed by developer Blue & Gold Holdings.
The Huntington Station-based developer had to wait a month to find out about IDA support because a quorum of four board votes was lacking at the agency’s March meeting to act on the tax-breaks resolution. In March, three board members votes "aye," one voted "nay" and one abstained. Two others were absent.
Northridge Square, located on New York Avenue near the Long Island Rail Road station, is part of a larger effort to revitalize the area. The 20,337-square-foot building will consist of 16 one-bedroom apartments — three of them with below-market rents — and space for offices or stores on the first floor.
IDA chairwoman Natalie Wright, who also serves as economic development commissioner for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said all types of apartments are sorely needed in the county. "The affordable units are well below market rate, which is a real rarity," she said.
IDA treasurer Anthony Giordano agreed, adding the developer's property tax bills would grow substantially as the vacant land is developed. Property taxes would total $86,000 per year once the IDA aid ends in 15 years compared with the current tax bill of $3,750.
IDA board member Joshua Slaughter supported help for Northridge Square but said he was concerned about the average pay of $30,000 for the four jobs to be created at the shops or offices on the project's first floor.
He abstained from voting at the March meeting.
"The jobs that are created [by IDA projects] need to rise to a certain level to have the benefit of tax assistance…[But], I will support this project because of the affordable housing component," he said.
The only "nay" vote was cast by business executive and former county legislator Brian Beedenbender, who recently was appointed to the IDA by the legislature. He said Thursday he is now convinced that IDAs have the authority to help housing projects.
But Beedenbender said he couldn’t support Northridge Square because of interference by Bellone.
After the board’s inaction last month, the county executive sent a letter to IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano calling for Northridge Square to be placed on Thursday’s meeting agenda. Bellone also criticized Beedenbender without naming him. The IDA is independent of the Bellone administration.
"I won’t change my vote if it leaves the chance that it may be thought that I changed it due to pressure and that letter," Beedenbender said.
After the IDA meeting, Bellone spokesman Derek Poppe said, "The county executive is happy that the IDA has now overwhelmingly approved a project that is directly in-line with the county’s economic development plan."