The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency’s chairman said Thursday he expects the agency will be sued before it meets next week to terminate agreements with the owner of Green Acres Mall and an adjacent shopping center.
A lawsuit would effectively halt the IDA’s efforts to revoke controversial tax breaks for Macerich, owner of the Valley Stream mall and Green Acres Commons, the shopping center next door.
The IDA board voted in April to revoke the tax breaks, citing alleged “grossly misstated” job creation as its reasoning, but Macerich has called the move “a blatant violation” of its rights.
When the board convenes a special meeting on June 29, it will move to return the properties’ titles to Macerich — which the IDA took possession of after it authorized the tax breaks in December 2014 — so the mall and commons can go back on the tax rolls. The termination agreements must be signed by Macerich, IDA board chairman Arthur Nastre said.
“They’re not going to sign them,” Nastre said Thursday in an interview. “They’re not going to take this lying down.”
Nastre said he believes Macerich will serve the IDA with legal papers before the special meeting is held, meaning the agency will likely be forced to postpone any action on the termination. On Thursday, the IDA voted to retroactively hire Garden City-based Jaspan Schlesinger to represent its members in legal action regarding the mall.
A Macerich spokesman declined to comment Thursday.
When the IDA voted in April to revoke the tax breaks, including a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, “it wasn’t abundantly clear to us” that a termination agreement also was necessary, Nastre said.
Valley Stream taxpayers and elected officials have faulted the mall’s tax breaks for a hike in school taxes, though the IDA said school budgeting practices were to blame for the increase.
Two of the four Valley Stream school districts are also nearly at legal action. The central high school district voted earlier this month to allow its lawyers to sue one of its elementary districts, which is withholding $2 million from the central district and wants to see changes in budgeting practices related to PILOTs.