An artist's rendering of a proposed three-story apartment building on...

An artist's rendering of a proposed three-story apartment building on Jericho Turnpike in Commack for those 55 and older.  Credit: Beatty Harvey Coco Architects

The public can still weigh in on a Woodbury-based developer getting preliminary approval for $6.5 million in tax breaks over 15 years to build the second phase of a 55-and-older rental community in Commack.

The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency's seven-member board approved the tax breaks unanimously on March 28 for Fieldstone at Commack II, a proposed $41 million community with 98 apartments at 1110, 1098 and 1120 Jericho Tpke.

No one from the public spoke Thursday during a required IDA public hearing in Hauppauge before final approval of the project. The public has until Wednesday to submit comments in writing, IDA acting executive director Kelly Murphy said.

The aid package includes a property tax abatement of $4.9 million over 15 years, a $244,000 mortgage recording tax exemption and a $1.392 million sales tax exemption on construction materials and furnishings. The developer would pay $5.8 million in taxes over the course of 15 years. Murphy said the properties currently generate $37,000 in land taxes a year.

The tax break application goes back before the IDA board April 25 for final authorization, Murphy said.

Peter Curry, the attorney for developer Paul Posillico, said the tax breaks are needed to build housing on Long Island.

"With construction costs, interest rates and real estate taxes, no one would ever build," he said. "No one builds to lose a lot of money."

The plan calls for demolishing five buildings and constructing an 111,223-square-foot, three-story building on the 4.96-acre site, according to the application to the IDA. The building would include 42 one-bedroom and 56 two-bedroom apartments. Twelve of the units will be affordable, four of which will be leased to veterans and persons with disabilities. The development would include a community center and outdoor common space and provide two permanent full-time jobs, according to the application.

In October, the IDA board of directors voted unanimously to implement a policy offering “enhanced” benefits to developers in exchange for creating affordable rental housing, as well as designate units for veterans and those with physical and intellectual disabilities. Enhanced benefits include longer terms for tax abatements or larger tax reductions in the early years of a project.

The IDA has a long-standing practice to award benefits to projects that set aside 10% of units at reduced rates for people earning less than 80% of area median income, Murphy said. That equals $102,000 annually for a family of four on Long Island in 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Murphy said because Posillico increased the number of affordable units in the building by 2% and designated four of the 12 affordable units for veterans and persons with disabilities, he was eligible for the enhanced benefit. Murphy said the developer saved an additional $881,934 over the course of the abatement by using the policy.

"The developer thought it was worthwhile and the agency made a strong presentation on why it would be a good idea," Curry said.

In 2019, Fieldstone I, a 98-unit, 55-and-over rental community built by TDG Realty Acquisitions, a Posillico company, received $4.5 million in IDA tax breaks over 15 years. The proposed building will share an entry road and sewage treatment plant with the existing rental complex.

Ben Bonaventura, who can see Fieldstone I from the backyard of his Astor Court home and has raised concerns about light and noise pollution coming from the development, said he has no problem with the developer getting tax breaks.

"But resident should also get some type of tax break too because of the changes are impacting our quality of life," he said.

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