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Hotel planned for Jericho Plaza wins 22 years of IDA tax breaks

Artist's rendering of a proposed hotel and conference

Artist's rendering of a proposed hotel and conference center at Jericho Plaza in Jericho. Credit: Onyx Equities LLC/Paul Amoruso

A hotel and conference center being proposed for a Jericho parking lot has won 22 years of tax breaks from Nassau County.

The 113,800-square-foot hotel at Jericho Plaza doesn’t yet have a name but will be part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, real estate developer Paul Amoruso told Newsday.

Curio consists of more than 120 full-service hotels in 27 countries and territories, including the upscale Martinique and the Renwick in Manhattan, St. Louis Union Station hotel in St. Louis and The Reach resort in Key West.

"This will be a boutique hotel with its own individual flair," said Amoruso, who has been opening hotels on Long Island for decades. "There will be a restaurant, gym, spa, concierge, rooftop lounge and other amenities."

The $56 million project was awarded tax breaks last month by the county’s Industrial Development Agency. The property-tax savings will be over 22 years, two more than the developer asked for in an aid application submitted in October.

Even with the tax break, the hotel will pay $5.7 million more in property taxes over the period than if the land stayed a parking lot, according to an economic development analysis conducted by the research firm Camoin Associates and paid for by the IDA.

Asked last week by Newsday about the duration of the tax breaks, IDA chairman Richard Kessel said, "It was a negotiated PILOT [Payment In Lieu of Taxes] agreement and it was done in a way that worked for us and worked for the developer."

The 180-room hotel will cater to business executives on weekdays and tourists and families on weekends. Besides Amoruso, the other principal owner is Onyx Equities LLC in New Jersey, which is run by John Saraceno Jr. and Jonathan Schultz, Amoruso said on Monday.

"We’re trying to appeal to the traveler who in the past wasn’t satisfied with the level of accommodations on Long Island and chose to go back to the City to stay at the W hotel, the Four Seasons or another modern luxury hotel," he said.

There is no target opening date yet. "The completion date is subject to financing," Amoruso said.

The four-story hotel will be constructed on six acres of asphalt next to the two Jericho Plaza office buildings. They are home to the headquarters, Morgan Stanley, UBS and two big accounting firms, among others.

Such high-profile businesses should help to ensure that the hotel succeeds even if the pandemic lingers, Amoruso said. They will bring lodgers for meetings and employee-training sessions, he said, adding that 1-800-Flowers executives endorsed the hotel to government officials.

Besides property-tax breaks, the IDA awarded the hotel project a sales-tax exemption of up to $2.6 million on the purchase of construction materials and supplies and up to $294,000 off the mortgage-recording tax.

The agency agreed in late 2019 to negotiate an aid package but Amoruso said the coronavirus forced changes to the project, such as less public space on the hotel's first floor.

In return for IDA help, Amoruso and his partners pledged to create 52 jobs within three years. Thirty-nine of the positions are in maintenance, housekeeping and food service, with annual pay of $36,000 to $38,000, according to the IDA application.

Separately, Amoruso and another developer recently began constructing a Hilton Hampton Inn & Suites on the site of an old golf driving range in East Farmingdale. The 101-room hotel received 20 years of property-tax savings from the Babylon Town IDA, according to IDA records.

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