Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandNassau

Agency to vote on controversial tax break for builder

Amid a groundswell of local opposition, the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a proposed 20-year tax break for a company seeking to buy an affordable housing complex in Hempstead Village.

Several local leaders Tuesday urged the IDA board to put off a decision until the company, 590-600 Realty Corp., provides more financial detail to support its request. The company plans to buy and refurbish 590-600 Fulton Ave., a two-building complex with 337 rent-regulated apartments.

Close to two dozen residents joined seven elected officials at a news conference in Hempstead Town Hall to question the proposal, which seeks a 38 percent cut in property tax payments the first year, to $775,100 from $1.25 million.

If approved, the partial tax exemption would be the 17th such deal in effect in a village where close to a third of the assessed value is off the tax rolls, village officials have said.

"The impact on the citizens of Hempstead is vast," said County Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury). "An additional $400,000 of taxes [would] come off the tax rolls, a savings to the developer. Who bears the cost of that?"

Dan Deegan, a Uniondale lawyer for 590-600 Realty Corp., said income from the rent-controlled buildings, $4.8 million, was too low to sustain the current property tax burden, which represents close to 27 percent of collected rents.

Deegan said the buildings were run down and needed $5.9 million in repairs. The company can finance the upgrades and the $22.9-million purchase price, he said, only if the IDA board grants the payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT. He said the resulting payments would represent about 16 percent of rents, which he said is 6 percent higher than typical PILOTs granted to low-income housing developers.

Jeanwood Sessions, treasurer of the complex's tenants association, said the buildings don't require major repair and instead need better maintenance and security, which she said have deteriorated.

"If they're going to renovate the apartments then they can raise our rents," said Sessions, a resident for 32 years. "The fact is they're getting this money, which is on the backs of taxpayers."

Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. criticized the absence of village residents on the IDA board, whose members are appointed by the Hempstead Town Board.

"Nobody on that board has lived in the Village of Hempstead, and we're just tired of people from outside telling us what to do," he said as he exhibited a 10-page petition signed by tenants. "We're now taking charge of our own destiny - and that is we don't want this PILOT."

IDA executive director Fred Parola said Tuesday afternoon that the IDA board planned to vote on the proposal this morning. The meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at 350 Front St.

Nassau top stories