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Stalled New Cassel housing-retail project gets tax relief

A troubled housing and retail project in New Cassel may see completion after Nassau County offered 15 years' worth of tax relief to a new developer.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency approved the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement at a hearing Wednesday, paving the way for a developer, James J. Vilardi, to finish the project at 839 Prospect Ave.

The three-story structure has sat abandoned for several years on Prospect Avenue, the hamlet's main thoroughfare and the subject of a large-scale revitalization project. The structure is outfitted for 18 units -- six retail and 12 two-bedroom rental apartments.

Rent for eight of those units would be offered at reduced rates through a housing lottery to be overseen by the Town of North Hempstead's Community Development Agency. Stoneridge Homes Inc. was first designated by the agency to complete the project, a more than 13,000-square-foot site.

But the project, started in 2005, was never completed after the company defaulted on its loan with Bank of New York Mellon, said Dermot Kelly, executive director of North Hempstead's Community Development Agency. The bank had been doing a workout negotiation since then, Kelly said.

Public officials were convicted in 2012 on charges related to the allegation that officials had plotted to steer a redevelopment project in New Cassel in a "pay to play" scheme.

Vilardi said the relief was crucial for him to take over the property and assume debt obligations.

Vilardi's company will fund the project with about $800,000, along with other funds given to Nassau by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, county officials said. The county estimates the project will bring $3.5 million in economic benefits.

Vilardi said he will eventually sell the property to another owner, but is looking to designate space for artists to work.

"With this economic development compact, we put a troubled past behind the project and clear a new path for the future while addressing the overwhelming demand for affordable rentals in Nassau County," Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano said in a statement.

"It's been a long road," Kelly said.

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