The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency unanimously voted Thursday to support a $2.3 million tax break for a proposed veterans assisted-living center in Northport.
The Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been working with Sarasota, Florida-based developer Communities for Veterans for approval to build a $47.5 million, 110-unit facility on the hospital's grounds. Officials said 86 of the units would be assisted-living.
The center -- to be called Freedom's Point at Northport Assisted Living and Memory Care -- would be on a 10-acre wooded area on the northeast corner of the VA campus.
While several steps remain before sales and mortgage tax exemptions are official, the developer said the sum was significant for this project.
"When you're a developer and you're doing your financing, there's always a gap at the end; it's always more expensive than your last one," project manager Thomas Settle said in an interview after a presentation to the board. "There was still a gap to close, so $2.3 million is huge."
Huntington Town officials have approved the project's site plan, and Settle said the company is ready to build as soon as financing is finalized. He said the developer would like to break ground on the estimated 14-month project in April 2016.
While legally the assisted-living center must be available to civilians, it can give preference to veterans.
"Our goal is to have 100 percent veterans in this project," he told the board.
Plans also are in place to provide discounted housing in 20 percent of the units for veterans who need financial assistance.
The program will provide a 75-year lease of public lands to a private developer, which the federal government allows when a project provides such services to a certain population, said Ronald Brattain, the VA's chief of engineering. "In our case, it's veterans because it co-locates them to the hospital where they receive care anyway," Brattain said. "It's synergy; it's taking care of the veteran in all aspects."
The IDA board will need to work with the Town of Huntington to determine the details of the tax exemptions for the project. That process could take a few months, said Anthony Catapano, executive director of the IDA. At that point, the issue will be open for public comment and then sent back to the IDA for final approval.