Developers of a proposed 18-unit complex at 249 Drexel Ave....

Developers of a proposed 18-unit complex at 249 Drexel Ave. in Westbury are slated to include three affordable units and a retail area and have started negotiations with the Nassau County IDA for potential tax breaks. Credit: Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency has granted preliminary approval to start negotiations for potential tax breaks with developers of a proposed 18-unit apartment complex in downtown Westbury.

Center Moriches-based developers Ornstein Fetner Development LLC and 249 Drexel Associates LLC, whose principals are Alec Ornstein and Cliff Fetner, are proposing to build an 18-unit rental facility with a retail area, which is planned to house an already existing fish market on the property. The IDA board approved the resolution at a March 3 meeting.

The developers are seeking sales tax benefits of $224,250 and a $37,500 exemption on the mortgage recording tax. They are also requesting a 25-year PILOT — Payment In Lieu of Taxes — agreement, which will be negotiated with the IDA. Once negotiations are finalized the, agency will schedule a public hearing, officials said.

"The project cannot move forward without these benefits due to a number of things —high taxes, cost of construction … and also the certainty of a having the PILOT schedule in place in order for lenders to lend money," said Daniel J. Baker, the developer’s real estate attorney. "We’re happy we’re moving along in the process, and hopefully my clients will move through the process and on their way to building the property."

The $7.5 million project on Drexel Avenue would include studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, and developers have said they would incorporate three below-market-rate units. Baker said the facility would also include a lounge, gym and roof deck.

Baker noted that the initial project called for 36 units, but after discussions with village officials the project was scaled down. Mayor Peter Cavallaro said it is now "right-sized for the parcel" after going through several iterations before the village could approve the plans.

"The location is within a short walk of our train station, so it should be a very attractive option for anyone who works in the city or wants easy access to the LIRR," Cavallaro said. "The development is also consistent with the village’s ongoing downtown revitalization program and will bring new housing options and residents into our downtown area, supporting our downtown businesses."

Developers are looking to start construction by late spring or early summer and said it would take about a year to complete.

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel noted that along with two structures in the works by Farmingdale-based developers Terwilliger & Bartone Properties LLC, which would create about 130 new apartments, the project is a boost to the village and its economy.

"Our teams are going to work together on a cooperative basis, and I hope this will be an addition to the community, which will provide more housing and a retail space," Kessel said. "This project is just going to enhance Westbury and make it a major destination point in Nassau County, and if we can help do that, it’s great."

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