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1-800-Flowers seeks tax breaks to stay on Long Island

1-800-Flowers wants to move its headquarters from this

1-800-Flowers wants to move its headquarters from this Carle Place building to 2 Jericho Plaza in Jericho. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

1-800-Flowers.com Inc. is seeking tax breaks to move its headquarters to Jericho instead of another state, officials said.

The seller of bouquets, gift baskets, chocolates and steaks has grown tired of 1 Old Country Rd. in Carle Place, where its rents 81,000 square feet. The building has been in receivership and changed ownership since 2005, when the retailer moved there from Westbury.

“We want something that will be attractive to our employees as well as new employees, and help us to retain the talent that is so critical for businesses today,” senior vice president Brian McGee said Tuesday during a meeting of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

He said the public company, with annual sales of $1.3 billion, is eying 96,870 square feet at 2 Jericho Plaza but needs tax incentives to support $10 million in office renovations and equipment.

1-800-Flowers is requesting a sales-tax exemption of more than $500,000 on the purchase of construction materials, furnishings and equipment. It also wants to freeze property taxes at their current level for 10 years followed by increases of 1.81% in each of the following five years, according to an application for IDA assistance.

The IDA board, meeting via video conference on Tuesday, agreed unanimously to negotiate a tax deal with 1-800-Flowers.

The new headquarters would keep 377 jobs in Nassau that pay, on average, more than $100,000 a year.

McGee, in response to a question from an IDA board member, said 1-800-Flowers is increasing the size of its headquarters by 20% to accommodate future hiring. “We seem to buy a business every two years and with each acquisition there is always staff added” at the corporate office, he said.

Besides its namesake brand, the retailer owns 1-800-Baskets.com, Cheryl’s Cookies, FruitBouquets.com, Harry & David, Moose Munch, the Popcorn Factory, Wolferman’s, Simply Chocolate, Stock Yards and Shari’s Berries, among others.

Thomas Stringer, 1-800-Flowers’ site selection consultant, said Tuesday it began looking for new office space several years ago that would have collaborative work spaces, new technology and ample parking.

“We looked at several dozen sites across the country,” he said, adding 1-800-Flowers executives prefer to remain on Long Island. The company was started in 1976 by the McCann family and moved to the Island in 1990.

IDA chairman Richard Kessel said, “This is a major save for the county. We have convinced them to stay and grow here.” He added that Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has closely followed the IDA’s deliberations with the retailer.

Besides the county, 1-800-Flowers is requesting financial incentives from the state.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, “is poised to help them” to stay and “increase the number of good paying jobs in the region,” agency spokeswoman Kristin Devoe said Wednesday.

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