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Hempstead to decide on tax break for apartment complex

The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency is due to decide this afternoon whether to grant a 15-year tax break to the prospective buyer of one of Hempstead Village's biggest apartment complexes.

The vote comes after two meetings where elected officials, village residents and tenants of the complex on Fulton Avenue opposed the measure.

The company requesting the tax benefit, 590-600 Realty Corp., has said the two buildings, with 337 rent-regulated apartments, are in substandard condition and in need of increased security and improvements including refurbished kitchens and bathrooms.

Dan Deegan, a Uniondale lawyer for the company, said the $22.9-million purchase and $5.9 million in repairs are possible only with the tax break.

Tenants say the repairs are unnecessary because substantial improvements have been made in recent years, including roofing and masonry work and new doors and cameras. Many expressed concern that the proposed fixes would lead to rent increases they can't afford.

The partial tax exemption - called a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT - would cut total property tax payments by 38 percent the first year, from $1.25 million to $775,100.

Village Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said the benefit amounts to taxpayer subsidy of private investment - and with 16 such tax breaks already in effect in the village and a third of the assessed value off the tax rolls, taxpayers bear enough of a burden.

Dan Oppenheimer, 54, a village homeowner who attended a Feb. 24 IDA meeting, said the company hadn't convinced him that it needed the incentive.

"When you see these projects added together, these are millions and millions of dollars . . . of revenue that may be subtracted from the village tax base," said Oppenheimer, who paid more than $13,000 in property taxes last year.

Opposition to such tax benefits in the village galvanized last summer when the Nassau County IDA granted a 30-year partial abatement to affordable housing developer Omni New York for the purchase and renovation of 247 deteriorated apartments on Terrace Avenue. Under the agreement, Omni pays 5 percent of rents collected from tenants - an unprecedented 50 percent discount over the payment formula applied in past housing deals.

Deegan said his client's proposal calls for payment of 16 percent of collected rents.

The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at 350 Front St.

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