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Mangano opposes $109M tax break for Long Beach apartments

The superblock property along the boardwalk in Long

The superblock property along the boardwalk in Long Beach on Sept. 9, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has opposed a developer’s request for $109 million in county tax breaks to build a pair of 15-floor apartment buildings overlooking the Long Beach boardwalk.

The developer, iStar Financial of Manhattan, filed an application with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency seeking a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, exemption of $99.6 million over 20 years to build the $336 million 110-foot-tall oceanfront towers.

Mangano issued a statement this week stating he is opposed to the tax breaks. The IDA is scheduled to hold a hearing on the application Wednesday night for community input at Long Beach City Hall.

“I am opposed to the extent of the current tax benefit package and urge the parties to meet with the community and City Council to determine what is in the best interest of Long Beach’s economic growth along the boardwalk,” Mangano said.

The IDA, which acts independently from Nassau County government, now faces approving tax exemptions without the Republican County administration’s backing. IDA members are appointed by the county executive and members have not responded to Mangano’s comments.

The developers have said they cannot build the 522-apartment towers without the tax breaks, which also include $2.5 million in mortgage recording tax exemptions and $7.5 million in sales tax relief.

“We are surprised by the County Executive’s comment. We have worked with the IDA, City and Community for months to determine what is in the best interest of Long Beach’s economic growth,” Peter Curry, the attorney for iStar, said in a statement.

Mangano joins a growing list of opponents to the project after a contentious public hearing held in June. The IDA initially rejected a 25-year $129 million tax break for iStar after citing unprecedented opposition from residents.

Long Beach City Council members — all Democrats — have remained neutral on the project, saying they could expose the city to liability to iStar if the project is not approved. The city also stands to gain a $4 million payment from iStar under a community benefit agreement starting once the first tower is built.

“We all agree any PILOT should be in the best economic interest of our community. That’s why we continue to ask that the IDA share the cost benefit analysis we assume they shared with their boss, the county executive,” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said.

The City Council endorsed the development of the decades-long disputed vacant property known as the “super block” between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards after a 2014 settlement of a lawsuit filed by iStar. As part of the settlement, the city said it would endorse a PILOT agreement to build the complex, but did not commit to the extent of any specific tax exemptions.

Developers have said the project could garner $119 million in new economic activity for Long Beach and $4.8 million for sales tax for Nassau County. The project is expected to create 2,200 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs.

The Building and Construction Trade Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties has met with the IDA and has an agreement to work on the iStar project if it’s approved, council president Dick O’Kane said. The organization represents 59,000 members and initially thought they had Mangano’s backing, O’Kane said.

“We thought he was behind us 100 percent, but we’ve been wrong with his support in the past,” O’Kane said. “We’re totally shocked and disappointed this may not happen. This is a piece of property collecting dust for 30 years. I don’t know how people can turn their back on the economy and the people who live there.”

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