Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Long Beach tax break is illogical

The proposed site of the Long Beach Superblock

The proposed site of the Long Beach Superblock between Long Beach and Riverside boulevards on Jan. 1, 2016. Credit: Barry Sloan

The proposed 20-year, $109 million tax break for a Long Beach project that would include 522 luxury apartments, underground parking and retail space is again stirring passions likely to be vented at a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening.

A similar 25-year, $128.6 million break was voted down by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency last year after community response bordered on a revolt because of the generous tax forgiveness for what is called the “superblock.”

Opposition to the old plan and the new one is the same, and not surprising. The latest proposal would equal a tax break of $870 a month per apartment for 20 years. The city administration generally supports the deal because it has to, one of the requirements of a legal settlement. Another reason is the city will get a onetime $4 million fee if the project happens.

Still, the city has a gripe: The economic impact analysis required by Nassau IDA policy was not done. IDA head Joseph Kearney says the process has never gotten to the point when a study was necessary, and that the first proposal was so unpopular the IDA voted it down without such an analysis. But developer IStar Financial paid the IDA its fee, part of which is to fund the cost-benefit analysis. So Kearney says an analysis will be done after the public comments on the project.

That makes little sense. But so much of what Long Island’s eight IDAs do — frequently giving tax breaks to businesses that don’t need or deserve them — makes no sense. So another example of such illogical behavior will surprise no one.

On the face of it, the idea that luxury waterfront development can’t pay its own way in a hot market seems ridiculous, but a factual analysis would be helpful. — The editorial board