Nassau IDA backs rentals, ex-Fortunoff facility facelift

Complex situation: The future of Freer Street in Lynbrook, with a nod to the Nassau County IDA.

A transit-oriented housing development and a bigger, better home for a large mortgage banker have earned the support of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

Trumpeting new affordable housing opportunities, new jobs and other economic benefits, the IDA has announced preliminary approval of a tax-abatement deal that will keep a Westbury mortgage firm in Nassau County – and help it nearly double its payroll – and final approval of a benefits package that will bring home a new rental-apartment complex in the Village of Lynbrook.

The IDA granted preliminary approval in November to the package for Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, just days after the Village of Lynbrook Board approved the apartment plan. The LLC plans to demolish the Capri Motor Inn on Freer Street – long a Lynbrook eyesore – and replace it with a 97,482-square-foot luxury apartment complex.

The 80-unit complex is slated to include eight affordable apartments, a great get for the village – but the multifamily development’s real value, according to Nassau IDA Chairman Richard Kessel, is its proximity to the Long Island Rail Road’s Lynbrook station, located just a half-mile away.

Richard Kessel: Train of thought.

“The site’s proximity to mass transit will be key to the project’s success,” Kessel said. “In addition to removing a blighted property that has been a detriment to the Village of Lynbrook, this project will provide affordable housing in a transit-oriented environment that will assist in retaining and attracting young people to the county.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran commended the IDA “for doing its part to support projects like this one,” noting transit-oriented development is a big part of the county’s overall socioeconomic strategy.

“Bringing more rental housing to areas near our train stations is critically important to the future of Nassau County,” Curran said in a statement.

The $23 million reconstruction effort is projected to create 83 building-phase jobs and, when completed, two full-time positions. Much more promising, from a regional employment standpoint, is the benefits package for mortgage banking firm Cliffco Inc., which currently leases space on Old Country Road in Westbury but plans to relocate to a 99,000-square-foot office building in Uniondale.

That building, owned by Cliffco President Christopher Clifford and Marketing Director Adam Broder, once served as the headquarters for regional retailer Fortunoff. The mortgage company plans to occupy 24,106 square feet of the circa-1985 Charles Lindbergh Boulevard property and spend roughly $3.9 million on renovations “to make it more attractive to other tenants,” according to the IDA.

The renovations are expected to create 10 construction jobs. But the relocation will help Cliffco – launched by Clifford in 1987 with only two full-time employees, currently employing 62 – increase to 114 full-time staffers, the IDA said this week.

The IDA incentives package must still undergo a full board review before final approval. But with the company eyeing a potential shift to Suffolk County, tax breaks are a no-brainer, according to Kessel, who further applauded the renovation of key infrastructure close to the slowly gestating Nassau HUB project.

“We are grateful that this 33-year-old company has decided to remain in Nassau County,” the chairman said. “And we look forward to working with Cliffco to ensure that its site, close to the new Nassau HUB, is reinvigorated.”