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Tax breaks for apartment projects, hard cider distillery up for discussion

Riverhead IDA signThe Riverhead Industrial Development agency will have a busy meeting next month, when two large downtown apartment projects are scheduled to make presentations and the board also decides the fate of a controversial hard cider distillery’s request for IDA benefits. 

The newest apartment building proposal is from Georgica Green Ventures, a Jericho-based company headed by developer David Gallo. He’s is in contract to buy the former McCabes/Dinosaur Walk building, which is where the indoor farmers market is held on East Main Street.

Connie Lassandro, a consultant for Georgica Greens Ventures, said the five-story building proposal includes about 95 apartment units and ground-level stores.

The complex will also have workforce housing apartments, she added.

Ms. Lassandro said her group plans to make a presentation at the IDA’s next meeting on May 2 to discuss their request for IDA incentives. A public hearing will likely be scheduled the following month.

“We’ll be seeking the standard IDA benefits,” Ms. Lassandro said.

Georgica Green Ventures originally planned to buy the former Sears building in downtown Riverhead to build nearly 160 apartments, but the deal fell through. Ms. Lassandro said Georgica Green Ventures may also look to acquire additional property downtown but will start with just the one building.

Another proposed downtown apartment complex, Peconic Crossing, will also make a presentation at next month’s IDA meeting, according to IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James.

Peconic Crossing already had a public hearing before the IDA on Dec. 1, 2014, but the project has changed since then and requires a new public hearing, she said.

The IDA never acted on the original request. Peconic Crossing in March received site plan approval from the Riverhead Planning Board for a 45-unit affordable apartment complex at the site of the Long Island Science Museum.

Peconic Crossing, a joint venture between Conifer Realty and the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, plans to buy the LISC building and demolish it. The LISC will use the money from that sale to buy property elsewhere for the museum.

As with Georgica Green Ventures, Peconic Crossing will make an informal presentation at next month’s meeting, and then a public hearing will likely be scheduled for the following month.

The IDA is also expected to discuss a hard cider distillery proposal.

City Cider House LLC, doing business as Riverhead Cider House, is the name of the hard cider manufacturing, bottling and tourism facility planned a portion of the Grapes and Greens building, which is owned by J. Kings Food Service Professionals and located on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.

The project already had a public hearing before the IDA on April 6, 2015, and it also received site plan approval from the Riverhead Planning Board Thursday night.

The IDA has a draft resolution to approve J. Kings’ request for IDA benefits, according to IDA attorney Richard Ehlers. The IDA had considered voting on it at its meeting Monday, but postponed that vote to the May meeting because no one from J. Kings was present.

Despite this, a lawsuit filed by J. Kings Realty against the town in 2015 is still active, according to the state’ Unified Court System web site. Officials have discussed settlement of that lawsuit, which accuses the town of stalling the application.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said J. Kings agreed to settle some of the claims in the lawsuit but would not agree to discontinue a claim seeking monetary damages from the town.

The Riverhead IDA’s “uniform tax exemption policy” called for property tax exemptions on the value of the improvements that start at 50 percent of that value and with that number decreasing by five percent per year over 10 years until the project is paying full taxes.

The IDA benefits only apply to town, county, school district and fire district taxes.

The IDA’s uniform tax exemption policy also calls for sales tax abatements on building materials and abatements on county mortgage recording tax.

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