The site of a small Bay Shore power plant shuttered by the state more than 20 years ago has been sold by the Suffolk County Landbank in a complex transaction that will turn a county tax liability into a tax producer, officials said.
The former Hubbard Power & Light site at 1600 Fifth Ave. was closed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 1995 for burning nonapproved material, according to bankruptcy court documents.
Despite being closed and the company in bankruptcy, the site has remained on the county tax rolls for 23 years, with tax liens totaling about $6.5 million. Islip Town has collected millions of dollars from the county, including annual property taxes and the cost for a one-time cleanup after a fire.
The county and its Landbank, which facilitates the rehabilitation of such sites to make them productive, began working last year to expedite the sale, which was completed in February.
Vincent Trapani, a Bay Shore businessman who formerly owned car-parts maker USA Industries in the town, paid $343,000 for the 1.8-acre property. Trapani is in a position to grieve the taxes, which stand at $344,749 a year including interest and penalties, county officials said.
Trapani is in the process of rehabilitating the site, including a 6,000-square-foot building that houses the old power generator for use as a truck overhaul facility, he said.
“My goal is to see what we can do about cleaning it up and creating jobs,” Trapani said.
Through its 23 years of delinquency, the property remained under the nominal ownership of Hubbard Power & Light, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 1996.
Last year the Landbank received legislative authority to issue a request for proposals for the land, and accepted Trapani’s offer. The Landbank received county comptroller permission to transfer the liens on the property to the new buyer. About $6.5 million in past liens were forgiven as part of the transaction. The land had an appraised value of just over $1 million.
“The sale of this property, which has sat vacant for over two decades, will save hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxpayers while creating jobs in Bay Shore,” County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement.
Dorian Dale, director of sustainability and chief recovery officer for the county, said one big benefit for the county is “avoided cost. The longer these properties hang out there, the longer we continue to pick up the tax bill.”
Sarah Lansdale, Suffolk’s planning director and executive director of the Landbank, said the process included notice “multiple times” to the previous owners of the property about the pending sale. She said it’s the fourth time the Landbank has sold a property in such a way, and there are similar bid requests out for 13 other properties.
The Landbank, founded in 2013, has more than 130 properties on its rolls. It has been able to get the owners of 70 of those properties to become active in their payments, generating more than $5.5 million in back tax payments, Lansdale said.