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Tax breaks OKd for Mineola rental project

A five-story building of 275 rentals — at

A five-story building of 275 rentals — at $1,750 to $3,000 a month — will replace these vacant offices on Old Country Road. (July 23, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County last night endorsed a long-delayed plan to put housing on land near Mineola's Long Island Rail Road station.

Mill Creek Residential Trust Llc., received tax breaks for two apartment buildings from the county's industrial development agency. The aid consists of a $647,000 sales-tax exemption, $1.7 million off the mortgage recording tax and a 20-year abatement on property taxes.

Mill Creek plans to build a five-story building with 275 upscale apartments on Old Country Road across from the county courthouse. The units, ranging from studios to two bedrooms, will carry monthly rents of between $1,750 and $3,000.

A smaller, four-story building will be constructed on Front Street at Roslyn Road, with 36 apartments for seniors.

"We're providing much needed rental properties for professionals and seniors," said Maria Rigopoulos, a managing director at Mill Creek. "There's a real need on Long Island for this . . . Westchester has double the amount of rental housing as Nassau."

Referring to the larger of the two buildings, she said it would include lounges with flat-screen televisions, two courtyards, exercise and yoga rooms, fountains and Wi-Fi. Similar Mill Creek developments are now under construction in Hempstead Village and West Hempstead; the latter is next to the LIRR station there.

The Mineola structures, valued at $95 million and dubbed "Winston" and "Churchill" by Mill Creek, once sparked disagreement between the village and Garden City.

The Old Country Road building was originally taller and consisted of condominiums until Garden City officials raised objections. To get around that criticism, the project is now shorter and involves rental apartments. It replaces several vacant offices, one the former campaign headquarters of Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Another potential hurdle was raised Monday night: whether Mill Creek will pay the prevailing wage rate to the 340 construction workers.

Christopher Fusco, the development agency's assistant secretary and president of Local 7 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners union, asked Rigopoulos if her company would pledge to pay the prevailing wage rate by signing a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). "The guys and women who are going to build this project, they need to make a decent wage," Fusco said.

Rigopoulos replied, "We wouldn't be able to do this deal with a PLA." She added that "a good-faith effort" would be made to use local contractors, materials and workers.

The tax breaks were approved with Fusco abstaining.

Afterward, IDA chairman Timothy Williams and executive director Joseph J. Kearney said they would organize a meeting between Mill Creek and area unions to find a compromise.

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