An apartment complex is proposed on a vacant lot across from...

An apartment complex is proposed on a vacant lot across from Roosevelt Field mall. Credit: Howard Simmons

Nassau County has agreed to negotiate preliminary tax breaks for the development of 150 Garden City apartments — one of the first complexes to be built in the village in 50 to 60 years, officials said.

Southern Land Company of Nashville, Tennessee, applied for tax breaks through the county Industrial Development Agency to put up apartments on a vacant lot across from Roosevelt Field at 555 Stewart Ave. The proposed project would include 15 affordable units, to partially address a need for rentals and affordable apartments in Garden City and Nassau County. The county and the village had recently settled separate cases of housing discrimination.

“This is a win for everyone,” IDA chairman Richard Kessel said. “It’s a critical need, and the first new housing project under the settlement the county and the village reached. This is exactly what we want to encourage in the county.”

Garden City is under a 2014 consent decree that 10 percent of units in new developments be affordable to low-income tenants after a federal court found the village lacked affordable housing. The village was ordered in December to pay $5.3 million in attorneys' fees and costs in a housing discrimination case after the village lost its appeal.

Nassau officials said in March that the county will pay $5.4 million to a different nonprofit developer to settle a separate 14-year-old housing discrimination case.

The IDA, which approved a resolution for talks on an incentive package in a 5-0 vote with one abstention on March 21, has not set the amount developers will receive and said they would like to see the project include more affordable units. Developers will go before the IDA again to provide more detail and revised plans.

Developers are seeking a 20-year PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, which could limit taxes to only the land value of the property before gradually increasing to the 20-year buildout, said Dan Deegan, an attorney for the developers.

Southern Land is requesting a sales tax exemption up to $4.4 million sales tax exemption on the purchase of construction materials  and an exemption on the $476,981 mortgage recording tax. The existing taxes on the property are valued at $125,825.

“Everyone knows construction on Long Island is very expensive,” Deegan said. “The taxes are very high, and a project like this cannot work if it has to pay full taxes on day one when it’s built.”

IDA member Timothy Williams expressed concerns about developers selling the property shortly after it was completed.

The 4.5-acre property, which has weeds growing through concrete, is next to a Starbucks and a park of baseball fields and has been vacant for more than 20 years, Deegan said.

Developers said, if approved, they could begin work in six months on the $90.8 million four-story building. Developers estimate the project would create 416 construction jobs.

One condition of any tax break deal is to offer five affordable housing units at 80 percent, five units at 60 percent and five units at 40 percent of the average median income for the region. Southern Land officials said they could negotiate adding affordable units if more tax breaks are offered.

With James T. Madore

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