Riverhead IDA approves bowling alley tax breaks

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO The vacated bowling alley on Route 25 was to be called Bowl 58.

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency approved developer Jeffrey Rimland’s request for tax abatements and other incentives for his efforts to open a half-built and abandoned bowling alley on Route 25 in Riverhead.

The board had three members in favor, with one absent and newly appointed IDA member Dawn Thomas abstaining.

Mr. Rimland’s company, Main Road Holdings, bought the mortgage on the property from Bank of Smithtown and is in the process of taking ownership of the land.

A group led by Joe Albanese and Robert Bunt had originally proposed the bowling alley, which they called Bowl 58, and got most of the building completed before they ran out of money and were foreclosed on by the Bank of Smithtown.

The prior owners had been improved for tax abatements from the IDA, but never received them because they didn’t file the necessary paperwork with town tax assessors, officials said.

Main Road Holdings received the same exemptions that Bowl 58 had been approved for which is slightly less than the standard IDA exemptions that call for property tax abatements starting at 50 percent and declining five percent per year over 10 years. Instead, the exemptions approved Monday granted Mr. Rimland a seven-year property tax abatement that gives the project a 50 percent exemption on the value of improvements to the property for each of the first three years, and then decreases that exemption by 5 percent a year for the next four years, before paying full taxes after that.

The IDA also approved abatements on mortgage tax and sales tax associated with building materials used in the work.

At a Jan. 4 public hearing on Mr. Rimland’s request for abatements, he said the building has become an eyesore, and that he intends to open it and operate it as a 28-lane bowling alley with a restaurant.

He said he was seeking the abatements because “banks will not lend unless the you ask for all the help available to minimize their risk,” he said.

At that same hearing, Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, the president of the Riverhead School Board, opposed the tax exemptions, and got on her knees to emulate NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, saying she was “going to pray for the school district” because it is in “dire straights” with state aid cuts and state-imposed two-percent budget cap.

She said the district can’t afford to have tax breaks given to businesses.

No one spoke Monday.

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