The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency board Wednesday approved a 10-year tax break for a developer planning to buy one of Hempstead Village's biggest apartment complexes.
The unanimous vote to grant the tax benefit to 590-600 Realty Corp., which plans to purchase a 337-unit complex on Fulton Avenue, was made over the protests of a broad coalition of local elected officials and community members who packed the meeting hall on Front Street.
"I'm just flabbergasted how . . . they just come in and within 30 seconds make a decision," said tenant association vice president Aaron Allen, 50. "We have no say."
The company, which had indicated it would not proceed with the $22.9-million purchase and $5.9 million in upgrades without the tax abatement, now plans to close the sale before a March 23 deadline, said Uniondale lawyer Dan Deegan.
The town IDA was initially considering a 20-year partial tax exemption on the rent-regulated properties. But by the Feb. 24 board meeting, as opposition mounted, the proposed term had been cut to 15 years.
But that term would exceed the 10-year standard granted to housing developers - and thus would have required another public hearing, IDA executive director Fred Parola said. So the board decided to withdraw that application and vote on a 10-year term so the buyer could meet the closing deadline, he said.
"These guys have to close," Parola said, referring to the company whose president, Karan Singh, operates two other apartment buildings in Hempstead Village. "We told them we'd welcome them to come back" to seek an extension of the term, he said.
The tax break - a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT - would cut total property tax payments by $475,000 in the first year alone.
Nassau County Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) opposed the deal, saying the PILOT shifted the investment risk from the bank and landlord to taxpayers.
"They're bailing out the bank by providing the tax abatement so that the prospective owner can pay down" the building's debt, he said. Deegan said the company plans to pay down $4.6 million in debt to satisfy bank requirements.
Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall criticized board members - none of whom lives in the village - for voting against the will of residents.
"Everybody was against it and they did it anyway. That's arrogance," he said.
He said the village is considering hiring a lawyer to challenge the decision.