Newsday: Bond, tax breaks approved for Glen Cove waterfront project

Updated June 30, 2016 9:27 PM
By David Olson


  • Opponents shout disapproval of vote to fund massive development
  • Officials say plan’s future tax revenue will pay bonds

In a City Hall conference room jammed with noisy opponents of the plan, two quasi-municipal Glen Cove agencies approved more than $144 million in bonds and tax breaks Thursday night to help fund a giant waterfront redevelopment project.

The four-member Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency board and three-member Glen Cove Local Economic Assistance Corporation voted unanimously for the aid with no discussion as those opposed shouted “no” and “you’re just cramming this down our throats.”


Uniondale-based RXR Glen Isle Partners LLC had said it would not build the project, known as Garvies Point, without the bonds and tax breaks. The development, close to downtown Glen Cove, will include 1,110 condominiums and apartments, public parks, marinas, restaurants as well as retail and office space. Money for the bonds will come from future tax revenue from Garvies Point, officials said.

Vincent Hartley, a member of both boards, said after the meeting that the aid is justified because the project will stimulate economic development and is “cleaning up a blight the city has had for 35 years” on the formerly industrial property.

But Cindy Hill, one of 105 plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to block Garvies Point, said tax money shouldn’t help subsidize a “Queens-style development” that many residents ardently oppose. It’s only recently that city officials have revealed that the project is “more and more on the taxpayers’ backs,” she said.

The boards approved the project using $97 million in bond revenue to build public parks, the reconstruction of a road, an esplanade and other public amenities and infrastructure. Bondholders, not the agencies or city, would shoulder the risk, said Michael Zarin, a White Plains-based lawyer for the city on the project.

With interest, the bond will cost roughly $200 million in future tax revenue over 30 years, Zarin said.

The agencies also approved $24 million in sales-, use- and mortgage-tax exemptions, for the developers, and a still-to-be-detailed property-tax reduction as well as at least $23 million in bond-related costs.

Zarin said the financial assistance is a good deal for Glen Cove, because the city, county and the school and library districts would net an estimated $600 million in tax revenue in 30 years beyond money spent on the bonds, and residents would get new parks and amenities.

Garvies Point opponents were angry that no public comment was allowed during the 20-minute meeting. Mayor Reginald Spinello said residents were able to give their opinions at a June 22 public meeting and in written comments.

Opponents said they were unable to make informed remarks at that meeting because city officials had not released key information, including the assumptions and analyses supporting the prediction of massive future tax revenue.

“There’s a complete lack of transparency,” said Roger Street Friedman, president of Committee for a Sustainable Waterfront, which opposes Garvies Point, and is another plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Friedman is skeptical of the claims of an economic windfall from the project.

“They’re touting all of these financial benefits when they may or may not materialize,” he said.

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