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$50M assisted-living project gets early OK on tax breaks 

Engel Burman Group plans to develop a 150-unit

Engel Burman Group plans to develop a 150-unit assisted living facility in Bethpage, similar to the one shown in this rendering.  Credit: Engel Burman Group

A 150-unit Bristal Assisted Living facility planned for Bethpage has received preliminary approval for tax breaks from Nassau County's Industrial Development Agency. 

The $50 million project, proposed by Garden City-based developer Engel Burman Group, is planned for 1055-1065 Stewart Ave. It would be the 10th Bristal facility in Nassau. 

Engel Burman has developed or is in the process of developing 21 assisted-living communities in New York and New Jersey. More than 3,000 residents live at Bristal facilities, attorney Peter Curry, a partner at Farrell Fritz in Uniondale who represents Engel Burman, said at Thursday night's IDA meeting. 

The 135,000-square-foot Bristal at Bethpage would employ 50 people full time and 20 part time after three years. Those in management positions will earn $80,000 a year, on average, employees in administrative roles will earn a yearly average of $60,000, and those in "production" jobs will average $40,000, according to the company's IDA application. 

Forty of the units will be designated for residents  with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Construction, expected to begin by the end of the year or early 2020 and last two years, will create 100 construction jobs.

Engel Burman employs 2,500 people on the Island, Curry said. 

During Thursday's meeting Nassau IDA board chairman Richard Kessel asked if the company is confident there is "enough need for this kind of assisted-living facility in this particular area."

The area is underserved, Curry said. "Also the Alzheimer's requirement is there … which is why each one of these projects has some Alzheimer's and dementia units."

Monthly rent at Bristal facilities generally ranges from $3,400 to $9,000, according to the company's website.

Kessel said he'd like to "see some effort" from the company to make a percentage of the units more affordable.

"If we decide to go forward with this. I urge you to have some conversations with our staff about the ability to provide a certain percentage of those units at a lower cost," he said. 

Curry said the company "would be happy to engage in that dialogue." 

Beth Mace, chief economist for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, a not-for-profit data provider in Annapolis, Maryland, said there is still room for growth for assisted-living businesses. 

"There are opportunities for both high-end and middle-income communities," she said. "There's a significant number of seniors who are seeking less expensive care and housing options, but the demand for high-end assisted-living communities is still there." 

Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect title for IDA board chairman Richard Kessel.

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