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Valley Stream auto dealership gets Nassau tax break

This is the site of a future Honda

This is the site of a future Honda dealership, which is under construction on April 5, 2015, along Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream. Credit: Uli Seit

Nassau County has given tax breaks to a fourth automobile dealership, citing an exception to the 2013 state law prohibiting such help for retailers.

The board of directors of the county's industrial development agency agreed unanimously Tuesday night to support the expansion of South Shore Honda in Valley Stream.

The dealership wants to construct a showroom, office and car lot on three pieces of land along Sunrise Highway, near another dealership that received IDA tax breaks.

The $4 million project will add 12 jobs by 2019 to South Shore Honda's payroll of 31, said Lisa A. Cairo, the dealership's attorney. Its workers earn, on average, $60,300 per year, records show.

The IDA provided a $43,000 sales-tax exemption on the purchase of construction materials and equipment. There also is a 12-year break on property taxes that freezes them at current levels for three years followed by 2 percent increases in each of the next nine years.

Cairo said South Shore Honda would convert its 704 W. Merrick Rd. operation to solely car maintenance. She said a new showroom was needed to meet Honda standards or the local dealer risked losing the right to sell the automaker's vehicles.

Other dealerships have given similar reasons when asking for IDA help.

Cairo also said South Shore Honda's location near the Queens border means "at least 40 percent" of its customers are from outside of Nassau.

Joseph J. Kearney, the IDA's executive director, echoed that point, saying South Shore Honda merited help "because it's the closest Honda dealership on this side of the line with Queens . . . More than 50 percent of their business comes from Queens."

He also said the cluster of car dealerships on Sunrise Highway is a source of tax revenue for the Village of Valley Stream.

The 2013 state law, pushed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, forbids IDAs from granting tax breaks to retailers except in limited circumstances, such as when the retailer derives a sizable portion of its sales from outside a geographic zone. This provision has been called "the tourist destination exception."

Nassau officials used the exception to aid Sunrise Volkswagen Inc. in Lynbrook and Bical Chevrolet in Valley Stream. Another dealership, Garden City Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Hempstead Village, received help because of its location in an economically depressed area.

South Shore Honda did not qualify for savings on the mortgage recording tax because the three lots were purchased last year and in 2013 for $3.7 million, according to its IDA application obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.

Joe Sorrentino, construction manager for South Shore Honda, said Tuesday night that the new showroom would likely open in late 2016. He also said the dealership would change its name to Honda of Valley Stream.

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