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Lynbrook VW dealership gets tax breaks to modernize

Sunrise Volkswagen dealership on Sunrise Highway in Lynbrook

Sunrise Volkswagen dealership on Sunrise Highway in Lynbrook on Aug. 29, 2014. A $5-million project will help Sunrise Volkswagen Inc. to meet new showroom requirements from the automaker and to expand its service department, according to owner John Burns. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An automobile dealership on Sunrise Highway in Lynbrook plans to modernize its showroom and purchase a vacant dealership nearby for a service center, executives said.

The $5 million project will help Sunrise Volkswagen Inc. to meet new showroom requirements from the automaker and to expand its service department, according to owner John Burns.

The showroom is at 931 Sunrise Hwy., while the proposed service center will be at 639 Merrick Rd., once home to the South Shore Hyundai dealership. Burns owns multiple dealerships on Long Island that sell Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, among other models.

He received tax breaks from Nassau County last week in return for promising to retain Sunrise Volkswagen's 48 employees and add 15 more over three years. They earn, on average, $44,600 per year, records show.

The county's Industrial Development Agency agreed to provide up to $42,000 off the mortgage recording tax and a $61,250 sales-tax exemption. It also will freeze the dealership's property tax rate for three years followed by 2 percent increases in each of the next nine years.

The IDA has provided similar benefits to two other dealerships -- Bical Chevrolet in Valley Stream and Garden City Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Hempstead Village -- in the past year.

Lisa Cairo, an attorney for Sunrise Volkswagen, said its expansion project "would not be financially feasible without assistance from this [IDA] board."

Asked how the dealership qualified for tax breaks given the 2013 state prohibition against giving them to retailers, IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney cited unmet demand for automobiles by New York City residents. He also said two-thirds of Sunrise Volkswagen's sales are to buyers from outside Long Island, which qualifies the dealership for help under a tourism exception in state law.

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