HUDSON–A Kohl’s department store won’t be coming to the area, at least not any time soon. Neither will discounter TJ Maxx.
The county Industrial Development Agency voted unanimously last Friday, February 5, to reject a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) application that the Widewaters Group, the developer of Greenport Commons, said was essential to attract Kohl’s to the shopping plaza on Fairview Avenue in Greenport. The plaza already has a large Walmart and a Lowe’s home improvement store.
Marco Marzocchi, general counsel with the Widewaters Group of Dewitt, said TJ Maxx had committed to come to the plaza if Kohl’s did.
Widewaters sought a 20-year PILOT that would keep taxes on the proposed Kohl’s site–just north of Lowe’s–at the current $22,500 a year, instead of the $81,600 the county and town would reap if the property were developed.
Mr. Marzocchi said the proposal is “more than just an application–it’s an opportunity.” The $59,100 loss in tax revenue, he told the board, would be offset by $101,900 in new sales tax revenue, for a net gain of $42,800 a year.
And Kohl’s would bring an annual payroll of more than $1 million to the county, he said, adding 125 new jobs, 30% of them full-time.
Of the 50 or so residents and officials who attended the early-morning IDA meeting in the Board of Supervisors chambers at 401 State Street, most opposed the PILOT–chief among them Alan Dattelbaum, district manager with Stage Stores, which operates Peebles at 150 Fairview Avenue.
He took exception to Mr. Marzocchi’s statement that “there is currently no department store in Columbia County,” and said that Peebles offers more name brands than Kohl’s.
Strongly in favor of the application was Board of Supervisors Chairman Roy Brown (R-Germantown), who said that 2,037 Columbia County residents had filed for unemployment assistance or were receiving extended benefits as of last month; and that more than 11,000 are receiving some form of assistance from the county Department of Social Services.
Mr. Brown assured the IDA board that a majority of the Board of Supervisors favors a PILOT for Kohl’s.
“I’d love to see them come,” said Greenport Supervisor Ed Nabozny (D), “but there needs to be some compromise.”
He, along with members of the IDA board, was uncomfortable with the 20-year term of the PILOT.
“Why is 20 years so important?” asked board member Robert Galluscio.
“Don’t let this train leave the station,” urged Ghent resident Al Wassenhove. “We’ve lost over 600 jobs in the past couple of years. Let’s not get hung up on details like 15 years or 20 years.”
Mr. Marzocchi said repeatedly that the 20-year term is a must.
He reminded the board that when he came to the IDA two years ago seeking a PILOT for the Greenport Commons project as a whole, “you said: Marco, come back when you have a real tenant.… What I have here is a real, live application.”
Despite Mr. Marzocchi’s 20-years-or-nothing position, county Director of Economic Development Ken Flood said he will pursue negotiations with Widewaters.