Despite the lawsuits, the waterfront project is moving forward as planned. According to Mayor Reggie Spinello, the anticipated closing date of the sale of the land to RXR for the Garvies Point development is May 15.
“We are right near the finish line,” said Spinello. “These lawsuits are nothing more than a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
He acknowledged that the project has changed over time, but believes the project, as a whole, will have a positive impact on the city, financially and environmentally. Regarding the environmental aspect, he said there is no way the project would move forward without the approval of the agencies.
“It’s a polluted Superfund site and it’s being remediated and brought back to use,” said Spinello.
In addition to the 1,110 residential units (10 percent of which will be affordable housing), the 56-acre site will have 27 acres of public space that includes a bike path, a dog park, an amphitheater, children’s playgrounds, public restrooms and a boat launch, as well as walkways and trails connecting to Garvies Point Preserve and Pratt Park.
Though there have been renditions of the buildings, Spinello said the designs have not been finalized, and the highest will be 125 feet. Public hearings will be held over the next few months, so people will have a chance to ask questions and voice concerns.
Another aspect of the project that Spinello will be discussing in upcoming city council meetings is the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF).
“The amount of misinformation is disturbing,” said Spinello. “A TIF is non-recoursed to the city and the city has no liability to repay it. The TIF will provide the funds needed to pay for the infrastructure, which is our responsibility, not the redeveloper’s.”
He said they’ve looked at places like California where they failed but said they have reduced the risk as much as possible. While the city is paying for the infrastructure costs up front, the property owner will pay the taxes. In addition to the $30 million RXR has already spent with “zero guarantee,” it is responsible for paying for the public amenities and the monitoring of the property in perpetuity; money that Spinello said “far exceeds the TIF.”
“The ‘sky is falling’ theory is getting a little tiresome,” said Spinello, noting the city’s rating has remained neutral and a budget surplus is expected.
The project is expected to generate at least 1,000 construction and permanent jobs and to bring in $50 million per year to the city. When construction starts, Spinello said the redeveloper must use best efforts to award 20 percent of the job to local people. He also said that concerns about the strain on the schools and the utilities have been addressed and there should be no impact on the essential services.
“This is once in a lifetime found money and it is the right thing for Glen Cove,” said Spinello. “In the longterm, the revenue growth will be substantial and will offset the increase in expenses.”
He said that there was a time when he was opposed to the project, but that was when 16-story buildings were being proposed.
“The more I’ve read about and studied this project, it’s a great vehicle,” said Spinello, noting that the downside of not moving forward is far worse. “The city has money due this year for loans from the county; the government could ask for some grant money back, and under certain conditions, it could be considered a default by the redeveloper. So, worst case scenario, the city could be on the line for $50 million.”
Once a shovel is in the ground, the buildings should be completed in 18 to 24 months. The entire project is expected to take five to six years to complete.