Glen Cove City Hall in 2010.

Glen Cove City Hall in 2010. Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The latest step in the massive revitalization of a blighted chunk of Glen Cove's waterfront has sparked new tension over the financing and reignited old concerns about the density of the proposed housing.

The City Council last Tuesday voted to consider helping fund the $850 million-plus development at Garvies Point with tax increment financing bonds, which borrow against future tax revenue.

The city is asking Manhattan-based HR&A Advisors to study a possible tax increment financing -- or TIF, which Brian Butry, a spokesman for state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, said is a rarely used form of municipal financing.

The bonds could be worth $75 million to $100 million, Mayor Reginald Spinello said.

Several residents at the meeting said the borrowing would expose the city to too much financial risk if tax revenue falls short of projections.

But Michael Zarin, a White Plains attorney advising the city on the project, said bondholders would assume the risk, not the city. And city officials said abandoning the project would lead to more debt.

Spinello predicted that, in addition to money to pay back the bond, the city would reap substantial tax revenue to support local police, fire and other services, as well as county government and Glen Cove schools.

But Marsha Silverman, 44, a Glen Cove resident who works as a financial data analyst, said the city's assumptions are unrealistically rosy. She fears that, far from benefiting from an expanding city treasury, residents will face tax increases to pay for city services the new waterfront residents and businesses would require.

The proposed development includes 1,110 condominium and rental units, three marinas, four parks, stores, a restaurant, offices, an amphitheater and a walkway connecting the site to the nearby downtown.

Officials are touting the 56-acre project as an economic engine for the city that would give residents new parks on what had been contaminated industrial land and draw visitors from Manhattan who would arrive at a ferry terminal that is part of a separate but related undertaking.

Groundbreaking on the development is expected in late fall or early spring. The ferry terminal already is under construction.

Resident Marie Rummo, a retired college teacher, worried that putting 1,110 housing units at the end of a peninsula would further clog the two main roads into the city.

She also pointed to an option in an agreement between the city and RXR, the Uniondale-based developer, that leaves open the possibility of a future negotiated tax break for RXR.

Rummo urged the city to explore backing out of the agreement -- a move city officials said would leave the city owing about $30 million to RXR and to lenders.

Frank Haftel, director of the Garvies Point project for RXR, said the company has no plans to pursue a tax break.

Haftel said residents' concerns are misplaced. The company has invested millions of dollars in the project and would not be planning it if it did not think it would be a success, he said.

The condos and apartments meet a pent-up demand for high-density housing, which is scarce on Long Island but which young adults and empty-nesters increasingly desire, Haftel said.

Spinello said the project is long overdue.

"We're a waterfront community and we're finally utilizing our waterfront," he said.

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