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Uniondale apartment developers seek tax exemptions

Nassau County IDA will have a public hearing this week on two projects slated for the A. Holly Patterson complex.

The A. Holly Patterson campus in Uniondale, seen

The A. Holly Patterson campus in Uniondale, seen here on March 29, 2017. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Developers are planning to build 372 apartments in Uniondale and are seeking tax breaks from Nassau County.

Garden City developers Engel Burman have filed an application with the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for tax exemptions to build 19 apartment buildings in two separate projects on the A. Holly Patterson nursing home campus off Jerusalem Avenue.

The Engel Burman Group has filed two applications to the Nassau County IDA seeking tax exemptions for 15 years on sales tax, mortgage tax and property taxes.

A hearing on tax breaks for both projects is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Nassau County Executive and Legislative building in Mineola. A vote on the project could be held as soon as Tuesday.

The applications estimate $2.28 million in sales tax benefits for the senior-housing project and $2.14 million in sales tax benefits for the general housing.

Engel Burman is planning to build 180 apartments of general housing, targeted toward millennials and young professionals on one 6-acre parcel and a second project of 192 apartments for senior housing on a neighboring 4-acre plot. The land is leased to Engel Burman from Nassau Health Care Corp.

Engel Burnam is one of the largest developers on Long Island and has received tax breaks from the Nassau County IDA on nine previous housing projects.

Peter Curry, an attorney representing the developers, said Long Island developers need county assistance to offset expenses.

Engel Burman plans to spend more than $92 million to build the two sites and is forecast to create 150 construction jobs. “I don’t think there’s a multifamily housing complex on Long Island that can be built without the assistance of the IDA,” Curry said. “The taxes and construction costs are too high.”

Developers said the property is currently tax exempt, so the land would not generate any tax revenue if it remains undeveloped.

Engel Burman has also pledged $150,000 toward constructing soccer fields and $600,000 toward a new community center.

The Hempstead Town Board approved changes for residential zoning in October after a March presentation on the projects. The projects drew mixed reaction from the community.

Many residents were concerned the project could bring extra traffic to Uniondale and surrounding areas and take away open green space for seniors and children.

Ernest and Marie Cantonese, who have lived in Uniondale for 60 years, attended the March hearing and plan to go to the IDA on Friday. They were concerned the project would take away from the Patterson campus and that tax breaks would cause residents’ taxes to go up.

“That property was for the aged and indigent. A private developer is taking a patch of our last open space and it’s just a horrible plan,” Ernest Cantonese said. “You know their taxes will go down and our taxes go up to compensate for their tax breaks.”

Proponents of the project said that apartments were needed to address a shortage across Long Island of multifamily housing aimed at keeping young professionals and seniors to support the economy.

“What we had heard from residents in Uniondale was that both senior and youth housing were priorities,” said Eric Alexander, director of the nonprofit growth organization Vision Long Island. “It’s about blending together price points that make sense for local folks and was compelling.”

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