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Babylon IDA lowers tax bill to draw businesses to Wyandanch Rising

Construction continues on Monday, June 23, 2014, on

Construction continues on Monday, June 23, 2014, on a residential complex is being built just north of the Wyandanch train station. Credit: David Reich-Hale

The Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency has revised a tax abatement for the developer of the Wyandanch revitalization effort to attract retail businesses.

Albanese Organization Inc., of Garden City, is building two apartment buildings with a total of 177 units and 35,000 square feet of retail space. The buildings are considered a vital part of Wyandanch Rising, the town's massive public-private redevelopment of the community's downtown.

Albanese executive vice president George Aridas said no retailers have committed to the location. The Babylon IDA last year gave Albanese a 15-year tax break on the retail portion: a 75 percent abatement for the first five years, 50 percent for the next five years and 25 percent for the remainder.

The current proposal is for a 100 percent tax abatement for the first five years and then a gradual phasing in of taxes starting in year six with 21.5 percent until reaching the full amount after 15 years. The change will give the company an additional $375,525 in savings, according to IDA chief executive Robert Stricoff. The IDA last year also gave the first residential building a 73.5 percent abatement for 40 years and the second building a 69 percent abatement for 30 years. Albanese's total tax savings is now estimated at $16.6 million.

Wyandanch Rising "continues to be very much a priority for the entire town and our economic development policy revolves around Wyandanch Rising succeeding," Stricoff said, adding that despite the tax break, the property -- which previously held a strip mall -- will bring in more than the $151,000 in taxes it had generated. The estimated taxes for the first year are $163,000.

Aridas believes the abatement will be a motivator by lowering rents.

Aridas said they have received letters of interest from a bank, a takeout restaurant and a shoe store, but getting a commitment from retailers has been difficult. He said the problem is not the area's reputation for criminal activity. "They're not saying, 'I don't want to have a business there,' " he said. "They're saying, 'I don't want to have the only business there.' "

He added, "We're trying to sell the vision, the long term. But if I'm a retailer, long term is next week," he said. "It's been difficult to get stable, neighborhood-oriented retailers to commit to being pioneers."

A public hearing on the abatement will be held Monday at 8:45 a.m. at the IDA offices, 47 West Main St., Babylon.

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