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Hempstead IDA approves $33M tax break for downtown project

Fred Parola, head of the Hempstead Town IDA,

Fred Parola, head of the Hempstead Town IDA, at a meeting May 12, 2016, to approve a tax exemption for developers to build apartments to revitalize the Hempstead Village downtown. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency approved $33 million in tax breaks for developers to build a five-story, 336-unit apartment building as the start of a downtown village redevelopment project.

IDA board members voted 9-2 on the motion to give Plainview-based developer Renaissance Downtowns and Uniondale-based RXR Realty tax breaks over 10 years with an option to extend the tax break for another 10 years for the full $33 million.

Renaissance developers plan to build the luxury apartments on a parking lot across from Hempstead Town Hall at Washington and Front streets. They are also investing $2 million to renovate an existing parking garage.

The first phase of the project is expected to create 800 construction jobs and 11 permanent jobs.

An IDA commissioned analysis said the building would trigger an additional $1.75 million onto the tax rolls and create $800 million in economic development. A condition of the tax rate extension requires the building is built in 10 years and be occupied.

The building is expected to be the cornerstone of a $2.5 billion project to add apartments, shops, restaurants, parking, a hotel and movie theater in Hempstead Village over the next 10 years.

Under the agreement, developers will pay more than $8 million in taxes to the village for the project over 10 years, rather than 20 years, which will give the village the full payment earlier than what was originally proposed. The village is also getting an $8 million community benefit payment from the developers after transferring 14 vacant parking lots to developers at no cost.

“At the end of 10 years, it would bring more money into the village and school than initially realized,” IDA chairman Fred Parola said.

The IDA’s vote came after a nearly six-hour public hearing last week with supporters and opponents of the project.

Wednesday’s meeting featured a mix of signs and rallying cries on both sides of the issue. Some signs said “We need jobs now,” while others said “Stop the destruction of Hempstead.”

The IDA board did not accept any public comment and at one point threatened to take the discussion behind closed doors if the crowd disrupted the meeting.

Supporters of the project said the apartment building is key to bringing young professionals to the village with a transit hub to Manhattan and anchoring downtown revitalization.

“This is a lifeline to our village. We’ve been struggling for too long,” Hempstead Deputy Mayor and IDA member Luis Figueroa said. “This is life and death to our village.”

Opponents of the project said the new development could increase taxes and price out existing residents.

“All the people who are against this live here,” Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, a critic of the project, said. “We don’t mind building, but they didn’t pay for this building and they got the land for free.”


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