A fast-growing mortgage lender is seeking tax breaks from Nassau County to expand in Uniondale instead of moving to Suffolk, executives said.
Cliffco Mortgage Bankers in New Cassel wants to renovate space at 70 Charles Lindbergh Blvd. in Uniondale, which once was the corporate office of Fortunoff department stores and part of the old Mitchel Field.
The 93,000-square-foot office building has been partially owned by Cliffco and its president, Christopher Clifford, for 2½ years, he said last week. The 30-year-old mortgage lender would serve as the building’s anchor tenant and attract other tenants.
Clifford estimated the building improvements for Cliffco and another new tenant, insurer Emblem Health, will cost $3 million. He is asking the county’s Industrial Development Agency for a sales-tax exemption of up to $114,700 on the purchase of construction materials and furnishings, according to an aid application.
In addition, he is requesting $60,000 off the mortgage recording tax and a 20-year reduction in property taxes, the application states.
In return for the assistance, Cliffco would move its 62 jobs to Uniondale and add another 60 or so over three years. Employees earn, on average, $104,520 per year, the application states.
The IDA board agreed last week to negotiate a package of tax incentives with Clifford.
His real estate attorney, Daniel P. Deegan, said the Uniondale building has been largely empty since 2017. Cliffco's lease in New Cassel will expire soon and more space is needed.
Cliffco was “not intending to come to this building [in Uniondale] even though there is overlapping ownership," Deegan said. "But they [Clifford and his partners] have been unable to rent this building” and “bringing in Cliffco Mortgage would activate the building and hopefully attract more tenants,” the attorney said.
Clifford, who started the company in his basement in 1989 with $20,000 from his retirement account, has considered office space in Suffolk along Route 110.
Cliffco is licensed to do business in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It does traditional mortgages, refinancing and reverse mortgages.
IDA chairman Richard Kessel said last week the project was worth considering because the building is in a commercial hub “and needs help. If improvements are made they will bring good-paying jobs," he said.