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Selden apartment complex gets preliminary approval for tax breaks

A long-delayed $32.1 million housing complex slated to take the place of a former golf driving range in Selden may get a shot in the arm in the form of more than $7 million in tax benefits from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency.

But the IDA’s preliminary approval of tax breaks for the project has received criticism from local elected officials and raised questions among civic organizations.

Construction on the 126-unit apartment community, to include 32 units of affordable housing, began late last year. The project at 495 Middle Country Rd. was initially planned as a condo development, but after financing for “for-sale” projects became unattainable, the developers changed the plan to rental housing, according to IDA documents.

“The board provided initial approval for the project because it provides for 25 percent of the units to be workforce housing for residents,” said Anthony Catapano, executive director of the IDA. “It helps the younger residents of Long Island and the county in securing needed housing.”

Catapano said the developers, Michael McHugh and Michael Kelly, a Brookhaven Town IDA board member, will work with the Long Island Housing Partnership to ensure that tenants seeking workforce units meet qualifications.

The developers also plan to make a portion of the site available to the Middle Country Library for use as a “hands-on learning center for children,” according to their IDA application.

Last week, the IDA gave preliminary approval for a sales tax exemption of up to $1.1 million on the purchase of construction equipment and materials, a $262,500 mortgage recording tax exemption, and a 15-year deal on property taxes starting at $157,500 the first year with increases of 2 percent annually for the first 10 years and then a phase-in of higher taxes in years 11 through 15.

Catapano last night estimated the property tax savings is $6.2 million over 15 years.

Bruce Morrison, president of the Selden Civic Association, said he is concerned “that if the taxes are discounted for this apartment complex then the local residents have to pick up the difference.”

Morrison said he will be attending an IDA public hearing on the project later this month.

Legis. Robert Trotta has been an open critic of the IDA’s decision. His main concern, he said, is that discounted property taxes will put an additional burden on the local school district as more young families with children move in.

“Guess who’s going to move into those houses? Young families,” Trotta said. “I don’t mind them building the complex. I want them [the developers] to pay their fair share of taxes. Plain and simple.”

The IDA will hold a public hearing on the project May 15 at 3 p.m. in the Media Room of the Brookhaven Town Hall.

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