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Long Beach seeks study of $109 million in development tax breaks

The proposed site of the Long Beach Superblock

The proposed site of the Long Beach Superblock between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards on Jan. 1, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman has asked the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for a cost-benefit analysis of $109 million in proposed tax breaks for a pair of oceanfront apartment towers.

Schnirman sent a letter Friday to IDA chairman Joseph J. Kearney asking for the potential economic benefits to Long Beach be studied before Wednesday’s public hearing for community input on developing the vacant “Superblock” property off the boardwalk between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards.

Manhattan-based developer iStar Financial is proposing two 17-story towers on the property with 522 luxury apartments and 11,000 square feet of retail space. The developers have said they cannot build on the site without $99 million in tax relief from Nassau County and $10 million in mortgage recording tax and sales tax exemptions.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on Thursday opposed the tax breaks, urging the developers to meet with the community. Many residents have opposed the complex, citing the size of the proposed tax breaks, traffic and blocked ocean views.

Long Beach will get $4 million from iStar in a community benefit agreement for infrastructure improvements once the first tower is built. City council members have not offered opinions about their support or opposition to the tax breaks.

“To promote healthy and informed public dialogue on this issue, we feel it is essential that the IDA, which is responsible for determining iStar’s application for tax abatements, publicly release its cost/benefit analysis,” Schnirman wrote.

Kearney said Friday that the IDA, which is independent from Mangano’s administration, had not drafted a cost-benefit analysis because board members were waiting for community input from the public hearing at Long Beach City Hall. Kearney said the IDA waits until after public hearings to draft a report because issues such as labor agreements could affect the economic analysis.

The state comptroller’s office, which oversees IDAs, recommends cost-benefit analysis before a tax-relief package is approved, but does not state at which phase it should be completed.

“We recommend IDAs around the state follow the process to give taxpayers the best deal,” comptroller’s spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman said.

Kearney said he had not been contacted by the city officials. Long Beach economic development director Patricia Bourne filed a Freedom of Information request for a cost-benefit analysis in December.

The IDA rejected iStar’s previous application for $129 million in tax breaks over 25 years. Schnirman said the IDA should have drafted a cost-benefit analysis after the first public hearing held in June.

Peter Curry, an attorney for iStar, said Thursday that the project “is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs on site, pay over $150 million of wages to Nassau County workers, and generate new tax revenue of $88 million over the next 30 years.”

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