As various housing developments break ground or mark completion across the city, one long-planned project remains in question: The Villas at Glen Cove, a 176-unit rental complex along Glen Cove Avenue. The development has been in the works for 17 years, and while demolition was completed in 2017, the buildings have yet to be constructed. The developer, Daniel Livingston, has requested a payment in lieu of taxes agreement from the Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency to expedite the building process.
At a public hearing on July 14, residents had a chance to weigh in before the IDA makes a decision. Several resolutions focusing on the project were on the agenda for the meeting scheduled for Thursday, after the Herald went to press.
On July 14, in the main chambers of City Hall, Livingston, accompanied by his attorney and property manager, made a case for granting a 12-year PILOT for the construction of six buildings ranging from two to four stories, a development that began in 2004 as a condominium project.
According to the attorney, Dan Deegan, the property is currently generating about $161,000 a year in taxes. “This proposal is going to tremendously add to the revenue to the affecting tax jurisdiction if it’s built,” he said.
Over the past nearly two decades, Deegan said, it has become “apparent that condominiums will not work on this site” and that “banks will not finance” the project. “Other condominium projects in this city and elsewhere have had a difficult time, especially one of this scale,” he said. Replacing them with rentals makes the project eligible for assistance from the IDA. The city planning board approved the change last November, and, Deegan said, the construction plans and drawings are currently awaiting approval by the Building Department for the issuance of a building permit.
“The only thing holding up this project at this point,” he said, “is financial assistance from the IDA in the form of beneficial PILOT.”
Deegan noted that Livingston would make a point to hire people from Glen Cove to work on the project, including union workers from Local Laborers 66, and also emphasized the need for this type of development in the city. “An important point of fact on this project is that 10 percent of the units are slated to be workforce or affordable housing,” he said, “which is much needed in the city.”
The $55 million Villa project would comprise 82 one-bedroom units, 86 two-bedrooms and eight three-bedrooms. Construction is expected to take two years.
‘I need your support’
Livingston said the timing is important. “We need to get into the ground in the very early fall,” he said, “so we can get the basic concrete excavation and drainage systems put in before the wintertime, so that the structure then can proceed. It is very critical time-wise.
“And I just want to the emphasize,” he added, “getting the support, you’re supporting the people of Glen Cove, because this project will be an economic engine that will retain local businesses, hire local workers, support restaurants and storefronts and beautify this city. I need your support, this project needs it, the City of Glen Cove needs the support — they need it now. The project must move forward expeditiously.”
Adam Marcus, the regional property manager of Greystar Property Management, said he oversees three Glen Cove properties: Village Square, Harbor Landing H and Harbor Landing I on the waterfront. The three combined have brought a total of 532 units to the market, he said, noting that the they have mostly filled up in the past nine months: Village Square is 99 percent occupied, Harbor Landing H, 97 percent, and Harbor Landing I, 75 percent.
“In the last 12 months, we have moved in 363 new residents,” Marcus said. “We have taken an additional 14 applications in the last seven business days, and once Building I is full, we’re going to start hitting an issue in this market where the demand is going to outweigh the supply. And we really need this additional source of housing in order to keep bringing fresh life into the market to support great projects, such as bringing more growth to our downtown area.”
Residents voiced a range of opinions, with many saying they didn’t think it was fair to taxpayers to give the developer a tax break, while others said they were tired of seeing an unfinished development on a main road and would like to see it move forward.
Several people criticized the IDA, and questioned the idea of granting a PILOT to a residential development. John Maccarone said that when the IDA was conceived by New York state, the purpose was to build a tax base and to create jobs. He noted that Glen Cove’s IDA was not yet in existence in 2004, and that it is the smallest on Long Island. “Our IDA has been a failure,” Maccarone said. “Our projected projects in 2018 were almost $1.2 billion, and we created 295 jobs.” He compared that with the Town of Babylon, with $1.4 billion in projects and more than 6,800 jobs created — almost 8,000 of them retained, according to Maccarone.
“The IDA is supposed to be for residents of Glen Cove, and there’s got to come a time where we have to consider just giving out these tax breaks to residential projects,” Maccarone said. “Historically, in Glen Cove, the developers benefit and we don’t benefit in Glen Cove.”
“Instead of taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor, you’re taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich,” Rick Smith said. “It doesn’t make any sense at all. All I care about is my tax money, your tax money and everybody else’s tax money being taken by people for their own personal gain not for the benefit of the city of Glen Cove.”
Roderick Watson suggested that the IDA adjust its 12-year timeline for the PILOT. “I already know this group is going to give that break,” he said. “The question is, what kind of break are you going to give?”
Watson recommended that the board create “interventions” to ensure that Livingston “complies with the things he agreed upon” down the road. He also suggested a shorter initial timeline that could be re-evaluated to see if an exemption extension is warranted. “Let the next group of people that come in re-evaluate it, continually re-evaluate it, to see that things are moving accordingly,” he said.
Maxine Cappel Mayreis, a resident and business owner and the vice president of the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of herself and the chamber. “The Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce wishes to advocate for the Livingston development to proceed as quickly as possible to enhance the appearance of our community with modern, clean-looking, low-rise buildings, especially in one of our main gateways into Glen Cove,” she said. “It certainly raises the attractiveness of Glen Cove, and the quality of businesses and entertainment we attract.”
Every aspect of the Villa project is consistent with the chamber’s mission statement, Cappel Mayreis said, and on a personal note, she added, she was happy to endorse the project because the area had been a “rundown and scary eyesore” for as long as she could remember.
When it received the application for financial assistance from Livingston, the IDA requested a cost-benefit analysis from MRB Group, a firm based in Rochester, which concluded that the new rentals could bring an estimated 39 new direct jobs and $1.6 million in new earnings to the city.
Given the proposed PILOT schedule, MRB Group reported, the project would generate $4.7 million in PILOT payments, an increase of $2.7 million in revenue over the life of the agreement. Additionally, the project would lead to an estimated $10,985 in new annual revenues from sales tax distributions from Nassau County. Over 12 years and increasing at 2 percent per year, that would mean $147,335 in revenue for the city over the life of the PILOT.
The IDA planned to discuss the project on Thursday, and while there were resolutions on the agenda, it was not clear what the outcome would be. “The IDA board members have taken their volunteer positions very seriously,” Ann Fangmann, the group’s executive director, said. “We have done our due diligence so the board has all of the information they need. They might deliberate further, they might suggest a shorter PILOT or they might decide not to approve it.”
The meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the main chambers of City Hall.