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Glen Cove greenlights tax money for Garvies Point waterfront project

The Garvies Point waterfront project brought out protest

The Garvies Point waterfront project brought out protest and support Tuesday, July 19, 2016, during a Glen Cove City Council meeting to vote on financial support for the project. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

During a raucous meeting Tuesday night that was punctuated with shouts and accusations, the Glen Cove City Council voted to allow using future tax money to help finance the Garvies Point waterfront project. The $960-million project would include 1,110 condominiums and apartments, public parks, marinas, restaurants, stores and offices.

The 4-3 vote came nearly three weeks after the quasi-municipal Glen Cove Local Economic Assistance Corporation and Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency approved a $97 million bond to build parks and other public amenities for the project, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to Uniondale-based developer RXR Glen Isle Partners LLC.

The council vote approved the distribution of the remaining tax money -- the revenue not going to bond-related costs and tax breaks -- to the city, Glen Cove City School District, Nassau County and the Glen Cove Public Library.

It also changed the typical allocation of property tax money, so the schools would receive roughly 53 percent of revenue -- instead of the typical 62 percent -- from the project, and the city would receive more than 39 percent, instead of the typical 29 percent, said Michael Zarin, a White Plains-based attorney for the city.

The school board, county and library also must approve the arrangement, Zarin said.

Councilman Joseph Capobianco, who voted yes, said the arrangement is “in the city’s best interests, whether or not you like this project.”

A council vote not to consent to the financing plan would have put in question the bond issuance, which, with interest and other expenses, is projected to cost $283 million over three decades, Zarin said.

The money for the bond will come from future Garvies Point tax revenue, and without the bond, more tax breaks would be needed for RXR to build the public amenities, Zarin said.

But Councilmen Roderick Watson and Timothy Tenke said before voting no that they didn’t believe tax dollars should fund the public amenities. Watson said RXR should be required to pay for the amenities and is too heavily invested in the project to pull out if the bond were not issued.

Amy Peters, a Glen Cove resident and one of 105 plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to stop the project, said “the city is being taken advantage of by the developer.”

Former Councilman Anthony Gallo, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year and is considering another run in 2017, said it’s unfair that “all the big corporations always seem to get the tax breaks” and small businesses in Glen Cove, “struggling to get by day by day,” do not.

Garvies Point supporter and Glen Cove resident Glenn Howard pointed to estimates that, even after bond costs and tax breaks, the city would net more than $225 million in tax revenue over 40 years, and the schools, county and library would receive nearly $400 million. Today, the largely empty, former industrial land is “just sitting there fallow” earning nothing for the city, he said.

Zefy Christopoulos , a project supporter and former chief of staff for Mayor Reginald Spinello, said the development would bring more families to Glen Cove and more customers to local stores.

“We’ve been talking about this since 1995,” she said. “Enough. Let’s do it.”

RXR Glen Isle Partners LLC hopes to begin construction later this year on Garvies Point.

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