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Hempstead IDA members seek revote on development tax breaks

Artist rendering of downtown redevelopment along North Main

Artist rendering of downtown redevelopment along North Main Street in Hempstead Village. Photo Credit: Renaissance Downtowns

Two Hempstead Village officials have told the town development agency that they want to change their votes approving tax breaks for a $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment project, saying details were changed after the vote.

Hempstead Village Deputy Mayor Luis Figueroa and village Assessor Stacey Hargraves sent a letter last week to Hempstead Industrial Development Agency chairman Fred Parola asking to retroactively change their votes in a measure that passed 9-2 on May 18. The vote approved a $33 million 10-year PILOT — payment in lieu of taxes — with a 10-year extension.

Plainview developer Renaissance Downtowns and Uniondale developer RXR Realty sought the tax breaks on the first phase of the downtown redevelopment project to build a 336-unit apartment building at Main and Front streets.

The project was approved by the IDA board with the conditions that the building be completed in 10 years and fully occupied. The original request for a 20-year tax break was split in half with an option to extend for the following 10 years if the conditions were met for the full $33 million.

Village officials argued that the resolution was changed by the IDA after the vote to require developers to reapply for a new PILOT after 10 years. Village officials and developers have asked the IDA to vote again on the resolution with amended language.

Renaissance chief executive Don Monti said he cannot move forward on the project because investors won’t back a $100 million investment for 10 years when taxes are apt to change after the first decade.

“When we left the meeting, we thought we were getting a 20-year PILOT, but lo and behold, they changed the whole thing. They changed the rules,” Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said. “That leaves us in limbo. This is nothing but political games.”

Parola said the conditions of the project were clear and he won’t open the application to a new vote. He said the compromise over 10 years was crafted during an executive session before the meeting and the modifications were minor. He said the minutes and resolution for the project were accurate to reflect those conditions.

“If he [Figueroa] wants another vote, the chances are the board would vote the project down,” Parola said. “The members of this independent body came up with this compromise and it made no one happy. He wanted 20 years carte blanche and didn’t want it to be reconsidered.”

The developers say they cannot go forward, but Monti said he won’t back down from the original plans to develop 14 sites on 32 acres. A PILOT and hearing before the town’s IDA is required for each building. The project approved in the village master plan includes apartments, shops, restaurants, a hotel, movie theater and parking.

“I will do everything in my power to work things out with the IDA. We are partnered with the village and committed to see this project happen,” Monti said. “We are not going away by any means, but we always try to use diplomacy first.”

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