By GREGORY ZELLER //
Senior citizens in Commack are still waiting to score, but the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency has already earned an assist.
The Suffolk IDA on Monday announced preliminary approval of an economic-development incentives package that will help bring a long-awaited, $26 million revitalization project to fruition – though the project, which would replace an old motel with an age-restricted rental community for residents 55 and older, still requires final approvals from the Town of Smithtown.
Woodbury-based developer TDG Commack LLC plans to convert the 6.75-acre property, currently a Courtesy Inn motel, into 50 two-bedroom apartments and 48 one-bedroom apartments. The seniors-only rental community is also set to feature a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse, a fitness center and an outdoor pool.
The plan earned a critical zoning amendment from the Smithtown Town Board in January 2017. According to the IDA, that zoning change – along with the new IDA incentives package and “support from the Town of Smithtown” – will help TDG Commack “revitalize a blighted property and create a much-needed housing option for aging residents.”
Noting that senior housing “is in limited supply in our area,” IDA Executive Director Tony Catapano said Monday the agency was pleased to support a redevelopment plan that “will be a welcomed, tax-generating asset for the Smithtown community.”
The redevelopment plan has been in the works for years. In January 2016, the Smithtown Planning Board unanimously approved TDG Commack’s change-of-zone petition for its then-118-unit project.
The now 98-unit plan includes the demolition of three separate buildings on the Jericho Turnpike site, totaling 14,000 square feet. Seven new buildings – housing the “garden-style” apartments and other facilities, including a new community center – would rise in their place, and TDG Commack is “excited to begin this transformative project,” according to spokesman Paul Posillico.
“This project represents a significant redevelopment investment and it would not have been made possible without the support of the Town of Smithtown and the Suffolk County IDA,” Posillico said in a statement. “Their assistance was vital to ensuring the project moved forward.”
In addition to filling a senior-housing need, the IDA projects “significantly” more tax revenues from the new apartment complex. The agency notes $43,000 in annual taxes generated by the property “in its current form,” but says in the first year of the IDA’s 15-year tax-incentives deal, when abatements “are most significant,” tax revenues will exceed $179,000.
By year 15, the property is projected to generate more than $752,000 in annual tax revenues – a 1,600 percent increase over its current contribution, the IDA notes.
The deal is contingent on final construction approvals from the town, which the IDA expects to be granted around the time the agency issues final approval of its 15-year tax-abatement package.
In more ways than one, the timing couldn’t have been better, according to IDA Deputy Executive Director Kelly Morris.
“The expense of taxes can be a significant hurdle for a developer, especially at the beginning stages of new construction when there won’t be a return on investment for quite some time,” Morris said Monday. “The IDA’s assistance is important for two main reasons: It provides the incentives to get redevelopment projects up and running, and it ensures the growth of the county’s long-term tax base.”