A waterfront apartment complex on Barnum Island is slated to...

A waterfront apartment complex on Barnum Island is slated to be built where two restaurants, Paddy McGee's and Coyote Grill, used to stand before they were damaged in superstorm Sandy in 2012. Above, a view of the site on Thursday, March 23, 2017. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency on Thursday voted 5-0 to grant preliminary approval to tax incentives for a new waterfront apartment complex on Barnum Island — but the developer’s lawyer called the potential deal financially “catastrophic” for the project.

Waterview Land Development LLC of Island Park had sought tax incentives from the IDA last year to build 26 one-bedroom and 60 two-bedroom rental apartments geared toward young adults and empty-nesters. The IDA board at that time gave preliminary approval to the project’s tax breaks, but it wasn’t made final because the developer had not received site plan approval from the Town of Hempstead, officials said.

The town has since agreed to the site plan and Waterview Land Development LLC appeared in front of the IDA board on Thursday to seek a new package that includes a sales tax exemption, a mortgage-recording tax abatement and a 10-year payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT.

Peter Curry, Waterview’s Uniondale-based attorney, said the developer had sought financing for the project based on the previous PILOT agreement from the IDA board.

But because taxes have risen since last year, the new PILOT agreement proposed Thursday would require Waterview to make $800,000 more in payments over 10 years than in the previous tentative agreement.

“It’s catastrophic,” Curry said of the new agreement.

IDA officials said the PILOT numbers still can be changed — Thursday’s vote was preliminary and a public hearing is to be held in the future. The IDA board has a policy of freezing the current taxes for the first three years of a PILOT and increasing the payments incrementally after that through the 10th year.

If the IDA board denies the tax incentives entirely, Waterview owner John Vitale said it wouldn’t be possible to build the complex.

“We couldn’t do it,” he said. “The numbers just wouldn’t work.”

IDA chairman Arthur Nastre — who said he had represented Vitale previously in other matters for about 15 years — recused himself from the vote, and board member Gerilyn Smith was not present at the meeting.

IDA vice chairman William Hendrick said the board has to balance the interests of the developers — who want to see lower PILOT payments — with what’s best for taxpayers. Although the proposed PILOT payments are $800,000 higher for Waterview, it ensures there is no initial tax reduction for the developer that would be passed on to homeowners.

“If it’s so unfair [to the developer], don’t build it,” Hendrick said.

Michael Raniere, an attorney for the Island Park school district, wanted to know if any renters would have children who would go to the local schools.

“The Island Park school district is concerned that a PILOT granted to Waterview Land Development LLC in connection with its proposed development of residential rentals on Barnum Isle will have an adverse impact on the other taxpayers within the district,” the school district said in a statement. “It is our understanding and hope that the IDA will treat us as a valued stakeholder in all future proceedings on this issue.”

The site of the complex, at Waterview Road and Pettit Place, is the former location of the Paddy McGee’s and Coyote Grill restaurants, which never reopened after they were damaged during superstorm Sandy in 2012.

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