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Nassau IDA cancels vote on tax break for Long Beach project

Karl Frey, executive vice president of land and

Karl Frey, executive vice president of land and development at iSTAR Financial, presents his proposal for the Long Beach "Superblock" project before the Nassau County IDA on May 13, 2015. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Nassau Industrial Development Agency canceled its scheduled meeting Wednesday night, just hours before it was to vote on a Manhattan developer’s application for $109 million in tax breaks to build two 15-story oceanfront apartments in Long Beach.

The meeting was canceled after IDA officials said they were flooded with letters and calls from Nassau County legislators, the Long Beach School District and residents opposed to the project and raising questions of the IDA-commissioned economic analysis.

IDA board members were to vote on the application for the tax breaks over 20 years for iStar Financial to construct 522 beachside apartments and 11,500 square-feet of retail at boardwalk level at Long Beach and Riverside boulevards, an undeveloped area known as the Superblock.

The vote on the project will be rescheduled, but no date has been set as IDA officials are required to give up to two weeks official notice of their next meeting. The project’s building permit, which was set to expire Thursday, was extended last month. The zoning and variances are unaffected.

“In the last 48 hours, the IDA has been inundated with calls and emails that raise questions to the economic analysis,” IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney said Wednesday. “The board needs to have all the information requested up to date and reviewed by staff so we can determine how to move forward.”

Developers have said they cannot build the project without a payment in lieu of taxes agreement known as a PILOT. The proposal requires iStar to pay $35.5 million over 20 years to Nassau County, Long Beach and the city’s schools.

Officials with iStar did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

IDA officials said they are reviewing the $25,000 economic analysis report by the Saratoga Springs-based Camoin Associates that projected the school district would gain $8 million and Nassau County would get $4.7 million in new revenue over the life of the 20-year proposal.

The report also said the completed building would generate $17.9 million in new property taxes. Long Beach also stands to receive a $4 million community benefit payment once the first tower is built.

Twelve Republican Nassau legislators on Tuesday sent a letter to the IDA arguing taxpayers would have to subsidize any tax breaks for developers. The legislators drafted the letter after former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) on Monday urged the County Legislature to investigate the project.

“I’m very encouraged that they did not go along with a rush to judgment some were urging,” D’Amato said Wednesday. “The IDA did the right thing, but they should look to see if there’s any economic justification for what would be taking taxpayer money.”

Long Beach School Superintendent David Weiss and school board members on Tuesday also sent the IDA a letter urging the agency to deny the project for the district’s “fiscal stability.”

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