A developer is proposing to construct a $23 million apartment building near the Long Island Rail Road station in Westbury as part of a larger effort to boost the downtown area.
Terwilliger & Bartone Properties LLC wants to replace a produce warehouse at 461 Railroad Ave. with a multistory structure that has 72 rental apartments, including eight with below-market rents.
The 60,550-square-foot building could be the first in a "transit-oriented development district" established around the train station by Westbury in 2019. The district was designed to provide housing for young commuters and more foot traffic on nearby Post Avenue, the heart of the village’s downtown, according to Mayor Peter Cavallaro.
Last week, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency agreed to begin negotiations for tax breaks with Terwilliger & Bartone, which is based in Farmingdale.
The developer is seeking a sales-tax exemption of up to $818,500 on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and furnishings and up to $136,900 off the mortgage recording tax. It also wants property-tax savings over 20 years; the current tax bill is $102,700, according to the application for IDA aid.
"Without the IDA's assistance, the project will not be economically feasible because of unpredictable real estate taxes and high construction costs. … We would have no choice but to abandon the project," said Daniel P. Deegan, Terwilliger & Bartone's real estate attorney.
Anthony Bartone, the company’s managing partner, said it has constructed three apartment buildings near the LIRR station in Farmingdale and is working on another in Lynbrook on the site of the old Capri Motor Inn – all supported with tax breaks from the Nassau IDA.
"We’re certainly willing to have a dialogue to try and improve on that number," he told the IDA board, referring to the number of affordable units in the proposed Cornerstone at Westbury building. Most of the 72 apartments will be studios and one-bedroom apartments.
IDA secretary Timothy Williams said, "Eight [affordable units] is a good start, but I think we can do better."
Williams said he is concerned that Terwilliger & Bartone sold the Farmingdale buildings and the IDA tax breaks were transferred to the new owners. He asked for a pledge that the Westbury building not be sold if it receives tax aid.
Bartone replied that he couldn’t make such a commitment. "We go into every project with the assumption that we’re going to keep it in perpetuity," he said. "But we do very much react to market conditions," which may lead to selling properties, as happened in Farmingdale and Hauppauge. The latter project received tax breaks from the Islip Town IDA.
Bartone said construction of the Westbury apartment building could begin late this year and be completed in 18 months. The project would employ 70 construction workers and create one permanent management job, the IDA application states.
Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel lauded Westbury officials last week for fostering downtown development, saying the IDA and village will coordinate their respective reviews of Cornerstone at Westbury. "We don’t want to jump on them or have them jump on us. … We want to work in partnership," he said.