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Long Beach School Board votes down Superblock agreement

The Long Beach School Board on Tuesday night,

The Long Beach School Board on Tuesday night, July 26, 2016, voted down an agreement with the developer of the proposed Superblock property, shown in a photo taken earlier this year. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Long Beach School Board voted down an agreement Tuesday night with the developer of the Superblock property that is seeking to build two 15-floor apartment towers along the boardwalk and seeking a $109 million tax break.

The school board voted 4-0 not to approve the memorandum of agreement with the developers of Long Beach Wayfarer that would have allowed the school district to use office space in the proposed apartment towers for its adult learning center.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency votes Thursday on Manhattan-based iStar Financial’s application for tax breaks on the project that would include 522 oceanfront apartments and 11,000 square feet of retail space off the Long Beach boardwalk between Riverside and Long Beach boulevards.

The school board met with iStar officials and their attorney Peter Curry on Friday, when iStar made a proposal about the office space to the district, Superintendent David Weiss said. He said public opposition led the board to reject the offer.

The memorandum called for about $4 million in incentives for the district, including 8,000 square feet of space for the learning center and expenses, as well as a high school internship and apprentice program.

“The community looked at what was being offered and decided it didn’t outweigh the negative factors,” Weiss said. “The board negotiated this and thought they were getting as much as they could, but they did not go into the meeting with a closed mind. I think the board was inclined to get benefits to the students. They had an obligation to consider this offer.”

The district’s adult learning center is funded by grants, but is supplemented with reserves from previous grants because of increased rental costs for its current location from the Long Beach Housing Authority, putting the program’s future at risk, Weiss said.

One condition of the deal with iStar was that the district send a letter to the IDA detailing the financial benefits of the development, but Weiss said the district was not endorsing the project ahead of Thursday’s vote.

“Just because the IDA is in a hurry, doesn’t mean we have to rush to judgment,” school board trustee Dennis Ryan said. “If they [the developers] just paid taxes, our kids would receive more than that. The community’s entitled to more than that.”

Developers have said they cannot build the project without tax breaks.

The IDA is to vote on iStar’s application at 5 p.m. Thursday at the county Legislative Building in Mineola.

A vote was canceled in May when the school district objected to an early cost-benefit analysis that included $99 million in property tax exemptions for iStar over 20 years.

The IDA conducted a new cost analysis last month that calculated a tax increase by 2 percent per year under the state tax cap rather than Long Beach’s tax cap of 0.73 percent this year. The latest analysis estimated an $6.5 million net impact for the school district, including $1.7 million in variable revenue and $11.4 million in tax payments by iStar.

The analysis estimated the buildings would bring 16 new students into the district, adding a 0.41 percent increase in enrollment.

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