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Luxottica to expand regional base in Port Washington

Nassau IDA agrees to extend Luxottica's 15-year property tax deal to 20 years. 

Luxottica's U.S. offices on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018

Luxottica's U.S. offices on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 in Port Washington. Luxottica, the Italian manufacturer and seller of fashion eyeglasses, plans to expand its regional headquarters in Port Washington to accommodate a growing workforce, officials said. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Luxottica, the Italian manufacturer and seller of fashion eyeglasses, plans to expand its regional headquarters in Port Washington to accommodate a growing workforce, officials said.

The company operates the LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut and Pearle Vision stores and sells Ray-Ban and Oakley glasses, among others.

In 2011 Luxottica sold its 145,000-square-foot building in Port Washington to a Chinese lighting business and rented 30,000 square feet nearby. The move was necessitated by the closing of Luxottica’s local warehouse a year earlier and the loss of several hundred jobs to warehouses in Atlanta.

At the time, company executives expected to add 10 jobs to the 167 that remained in Port Washington. However, seven years later the workforce has increased to 269, according to Thomas Stringer, the company’s site-selection consultant.

Records show employees earn, on average, $86,700 per year.

“The employment that was lost is coming back through the activities of the company,” Stringer told the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency this month. The new jobs are “the type of creative, high-value and high-paying jobs that frankly we need to compete for here on Long Island.”

He said Luxottica will add 9,000 square feet to its office at 12 Harbor Park Dr., costing $1 million.

The IDA agreed this month to extend Luxottica’s 15-year property tax deal to 20 years with the tax rate increasing 1.26 percent annually instead of 3 percent. The agency granted a sales-tax exemption of up to $86,250 on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and supplies for the additional office space.

In return, the company pledged to maintain its local workforce.

IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney said county tax breaks kept Luxottica here and encouraged its employment growth.

“They were leaving,” he said in an interview, referring to the 2011 tax incentives. “They were going to Ohio, but we held on to them.”

During the IDA board meeting, an attorney for the Roslyn Union Free School District requested that Luxottica’s property taxes continue to increase 3 percent per year. She asked the board to delay voting on the tax incentives for 30 days to allow school officials more time to evaluate them.

Board treasurer Amy Flores endorsed postponing the board vote, saying, “In all fairness, I think giving the school district 30 days to meet and prepare an accurate response is reasonable.”

Stringer said school officials already had all the relevant documents. “What more do they want?” he asked, adding that Luxottica couldn’t move forward with the office expansion until the IDA tax breaks were finalized.

The IDA board voted 4-1 with one abstention to approve the incentives but requested that Luxottica hold further talks with school officials. Flores cast the lone “no” vote, and board vice chairman Lewis M. Warren abstained.

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