Artist rendition of the warehouse planned for the former site...

Artist rendition of the warehouse planned for the former site of the News 12 studios. Credit: Rockefeller Group International Inc.

Nassau County has granted millions of dollars in tax breaks over 20 years to the developer of a warehouse in Woodbury over the opposition of construction unions.

In a 5-1 vote, the board of the county’s Industrial Development Agency gave final approval last week for a tax-aid package to support Rockefeller Group International’s warehouse on the former site of the News 12 studios. 

The decision came three weeks after the board tabled an approval resolution when it became clear it wouldn’t be adopted. Instead, Rockefeller Group and the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council were ordered to hold more talks, with a goal of resolving their disagreement over the extent to which unionized subcontractors will work on the 145,200-square-foot warehouse.

A compromise wasn’t achieved, according to representatives of Manhattan-based Rockefeller Group and the council, which represents 65,000 unionized workers.

Still, a majority of IDA board members said they supported the $55 million project because several hundred construction jobs and 65 permanent jobs are to be created. They also said Rockefeller Group, which is part of the Mitsubishi Estate Group, wants to do more developments in the county.

Rockefeller Group spokesman Brian P. Mahoney said the warehouse, to be called Crossways Logistics Center, “represents our first development in the growing eastern Nassau/Long Island industrial market …[and] is expected to be completed by the end of the year.”

The developer is also building a warehouse on Paradise Lane in Bay Shore, he said on Tuesday.

The Nassau IDA tax-aid package consists of a sales-tax exemption of up to $1.2 million on the purchase of construction materials and equipment and 20 years of property-tax savings with the tax rate rising 2% each year. 

At last week’s meeting, IDA board member Timothy M. Williams introduced the approval resolution, saying, “This is a great project that needs to get done. But going forward, I believe we should mandate that [developers] reach out and give fair opportunity to all the unions.”

Board member John Coumatos cast the sole “nay” vote. Citing testimony from Local 361 of the Iron Workers union, he said a steel fabrication company from North Carolina has been hired to work on the Woodbury warehouse. “If you are going to do that, don’t come to the IDA,” Coumatos told Newsday on Monday. “We’re about creating jobs for Nassau County residents.”

IDA chairman Richard Kessel said, “We cannot mandate the use of labor unions, but we can mandate that before [a developer] receives a preliminary [approval of their aid application] that they've started a discussion with the building trades."

Matthew Aracich, president of the trades council, called on the IDA to ensure Rockefeller Group creates the promised jobs. "I hope they follow this project," he said in an interview.

Peter L. Curry, the developer's real estate attorney, responded that the general contractor on the Woodbury warehouse, Aurora Contractors Inc. in Ronkonkoma, mailed bid information to 395 unionized subcontractors, received back 43 bids and awarded $7.5 million in contracts to unionized subcontractors, or about half of the available work.

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