County Selling Austin Avenue Sale “Big Box” Store By County to Make Up Portion of Optimistic Sales Tax Projection of 14%

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION LEDGER. From the Westchester County Department of Communications. May 26, 2016:

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced today that Westchester’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) unanimously approved the $32 million sale of property on Austin Avenue in Yonkers to Morris Builders, L.P. The County will receive $19 million, with the City of Yonkers receiving the remaining third of the purchase price.

“This agreement is an example of how county assets can be unlocked to create benefits for our residents and businesses,” Astorino said. “The $19 million in new revenue will help mitigate an anticipated budget shortfall, shore up funding for non-profits, and allow for the hire of three new police officers.”

The Austin Avenue sale comes at a time when the county is facing a potential $17 million budget deficit after the first quarter of 2016, due mostly to sales taxes not meeting projections. The $15 million payment due to the County in June will go a long way toward erasing that gap.

(Editor’s Note:) In the first quarter of 2015, Westchester County earned $159,728,064 according to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. In this week’s 2016 April report from the Department of Taxation and Finance, Westchester County Sales Tax Receipts for January, February and March of 2016 are reported as $162,324,303, 1.6% more than the January, February and March of 2015. In order for the county to be down $17 Million in projected sales taxes the county would have had to budget a 14% increase in sales taxes for the first quarter. If the present pace continues, the county deficit may be continuing on a pace to grow an additional $50 Million deficit due to the optimistic 14% growth rate the County Executive and County Legislature apparently hoped the economic activity would grow.)

The parties to the deal are Westchester County, the Westchester County IDA, the City of Yonkers, the City of Yonkers IDA, and Morris Builders, L.P.

“I want to thank Mayor Spano, Morris Builders, our IDA and all the parties for completing this sale,” Astorino said. “Complex deals like this are never easy, but because everyone was open to working together we were able to find common ground and reach an agreement that will help pay for government services and create jobs.”

The Austin Avenue sale is another example of the County leveraging its assets to promote economic growth. Morris Builders plans to build a 175,000 square foot department store, creating 560 permanent full-time jobs in addition to construction jobs.

Upon closing, Morris Builders will pay $15 million to Westchester County and $10 million to the City of Yonkers. The County will receive an additional $3 million when Yonkers issues a building permit for a big box retail store on the property, and $1 million more when the store opens. On Wednesday, the City of Yonkers Industrial Development Agency approved the terms of a settlement surrounding the property clearing the way for this deal.

Under the terms of the agreement, Morris Builders also receives an option to purchase an adjacent 9 acres from the County between Sprain Road and the New York State Thruway.

Additionally, the City of Yonkers will receive up to 11 acres of land from the County to establish the New Hogan Park.

The deal now goes to the Westchester County Board of Legislators for approval.

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