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Nassau IDA approves tax breaks for LI Marriott renovation

A financial assistance request for a planned $25

A financial assistance request for a planned $25 million renovation of the Long Island Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uniondale was approved Tuesday night by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A financial assistance request for a planned $25 million renovation of the Long Island Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uniondale was approved Tuesday night by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

The agency approved a sales tax exemption of up to $1.2 million on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and other items needed to make improvements to the hotel, and a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the hotel's new owners for 20 years.

The hotel -- Long Island's largest -- was purchased out of foreclosure earlier this year for more than $60 million by project partners Starwood Capital Group, a private investment group and hotel owner, and The Witkoff Group, a New York developer.

"We have a specialty in doing distressed deals," said Witkoff Group founder Steven Witkoff during the IDA meeting.

Because the property was facing foreclosure, his company and Starwood Capital acted to buy the debt on the property without assurance of any future county assistance.

Witkoff said the business deal was "very complicated and challenging," given the state the hotel was in financially under previous owner Charles Wang, but he emphasized the value the project will bring to the area -- and Nassau Coliseum redevelopment.

The developer is also in talks with Marriott to possibly transform the property into a global demonstration hub for its various hotel brands, with some rooms corresponding to certain hotel brand designs.

The project will have a total economic impact of more than $176 million on the area, and will add a fiscal tax benefit of more than $30 million, including hotel tax revenue, to all affected jurisdictions, according to the IDA.

Following the agency's meeting, Nassau IDA Executive Director Joseph J. Kearney said the plan to fix up the hotel is a good sign for the county's economic growth overall.

"My hope is that Witkoff will bring it up to speed," Kearney said of the hotel, adding that if it had gone into foreclosure, the county could have faced a worse situation down the line.

"The real risk here was that you could have an iconic hotel here boarded up," he said.

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