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Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency

Developer to get financial assistance from Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency

The location of the future senior residential community The Vistas of Port Jefferson off North Bicycle Path in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Alex Petroski

What is currently an open field on North Bicycle Path in Port Jefferson Station will soon be home for some.

A new 244-unit residential rental complex for senior citizens proposed

27 acres of vacant land on the west side of North Bicycle Path, north of Comsewogue High School, has been greenlit. The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Agency announced in an April 26 press release it had approved an application for economic incentives with Benjamin Development Co., operating as The Vistas of Port Jefferson LLC, which will also be the name of the new community. The IDA is tasked with selecting projects that “promote the economic welfare and prosperity of the Town of Brookhaven by assisting in the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and equipping of commercial and industrial facilities.”

As part of the financial assistance agreement between the agency and developer, The Vistas of Port Jefferson will make payments in lieu of property taxes for 13 years, starting with a $52,000 installment in year one, jumping to about $90,000 in year four, and concluding with a $1,516,043 payment in the final year of the agreement. In total, the company will pay about $8 million in lieu of higher town property taxes during the 13-year agreement. The total cost of the project is expected to be about $65 million.

The area boxed in red represents the location of the future senior residential community The Vistas of Port Jefferson off North Bicycle Path in Port Jefferson Station. Image from Google Maps

Lisa Mulligan, chief executive officer of the IDA, declined to comment on the agreement in a phone interview beyond what the agency offered in a press release, though she said the ball is in the court of attorneys on both sides to officially close the deal, which she said she fully expects to take place.

A request for comment to Benjamin Development Co. was not returned.

“As a result of IDA assistance for the development of this project, hundreds of new construction jobs will be added to the region,” the company’s application to the IDA stated. “The project development will also benefit local/regional firms through purchases from suppliers, subcontractors, etc. Finally, the project will create new full-time jobs and 245-plus new residents that will assist in the stimulation of the local economy through daily household spending.”

The project is expected to create more than 400 new construction jobs as well as 24 new permanent positions, according to the IDA press release. The Vistas of Port Jefferson will offer 64 two-bedroom townhouses, 36 one-bedroom units, 144 two-bedroom apartments with a clubhouse and a sewage-pumping facility. Construction is expected to take about two years. The facility is billed as a community for tenants age 55 and up. Fifteen percent of the units will be designated as affordable housing, available to prospective tenants earning less than 80 percent of the area’s median income, which was about $90,000 per household from 2012 to 2016, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said in an emailed statement through Legislative Secretary Carolyn Fellrath the town IDA is a separate entity from the board and does not seek input from councilmembers in making decisions.

“This proposed project has generated concern in the community,” Cartright said. “The re-zoning of this parcel in 2010 pre-dates my tenure. However, based on the community concerns raised to my office, I am not sure the decision to re-zone this parcel to Planned Retirement Community would be granted if this application were before this town board today.”

A rendering of the Overbay apartment complex. Image from The Northwind Group

By Kevin Redding

A new, 52-unit apartment complex being built in Port Jefferson Village this spring just got a financial boost from the town.

The $10.8 million project, which will be called Overbay, was recently approved for a package of economic incentives that includes sales tax exemption and payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, by the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency.

During a Jan. 10 meeting, members of the IDA board announced the approval for the Hauppauge-based development company, The Northwind Group, to construct the 54,000-square-foot “nautical-style” apartment building on the now-vacant site of the former Islander Boat Center building on West Broadway, which was demolished by the company in February. The IDA received Northwind’s application in 2015.

Overbay would stand as the third new apartment complex built in the village in recent years. With the IDA’s assistance, it is expected to have considerably lower rent costs than the others in the area, according to Lisa Mulligan, IDA chief executive officer.

Prices for the units have not been established yet. When Northwind managing member Jim Tsunis received approval by the village building and planning department for the apartments in 2015, he estimated rents would range between $1,800 and $2,200 a month, Mulligan said.

“Just in general, the need for affordable rental housing in the Town of Brookhaven is well documented and significant, so our IDA board of directors felt this was a project that would help fill that need,” Mulligan said, adding Overbay will be especially helpful for college students and seniors. “The clientele is anybody who is looking to move out of their home and into something that’s a little easier to upkeep. There aren’t enough legal rentals that are [affordable]. A development like this one provides that option.”

Frederick Braun, chairman of the IDA, spoke of Overbay’s benefits in a press release.

“This project will bring much-needed rental housing to an area near to Stony Brook University and Port Jefferson’s Mather and St. Charles hospitals and spur additional spending in the village and the town,” he said.

The complex is also expected to create two permanent jobs — Mulligan speculated perhaps a rental agent and a building superintendent — and 150 construction jobs over a two-year period. IDA financial incentive agreements typically require the creation of jobs, both permanent and construction related.

Tsunis said the incentives will help Northwind offset the Islander Boat Center building’s $200,000 demolition costs.

“It’s going to enable me to spend more money on the building, so the end result is there will be a better product for the residents of Port Jefferson,” Tsunis said. “It’ll definitely bring people into the downtown area that will spend money at the local shops.”

Community response has long been mixed on the project, even within the village board.

Overbay’s eastern neighbor, The Shipyard apartment complex, which was constructed by Tritec Development Group, opened in January. That project secured a financial assistance package from the Suffolk County IDA and will make PILOT payments to the village for 15 years in lieu of property taxes.

The influx of new village residents without the benefit of increased property tax revenue has been a point of contention for property owners.

“I think it’s a real disaster for the village that they were able to get this financial assistance,” 30-year village resident Molly Mason said in a previous interview, referring to The Shipyard. “It’s like we’re giving away the store.”

Village Mayor Margot Garant and the board of trustees previously opposed the financial assistance granted to Tritec.

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