LIBN ~ David Winzelberg ~June 13, 2017 ~
The importance of economic growth and the need to retain young talent were the main topics at a state of the real estate industry event in Woodbury on Tuesday.
A crowd of about 200 people listened to the panelists at the Crest Hollow Country Club discuss the need for more housing options in Long Island’s downtowns to attract millennials and revitalize the area’s business districts.
Don Monti, CEO of Renaissance Downtowns, said he is optimistic about recent redevelopment progress in some of Long Island’s villages, but stressed that the Island leads the nation in exporting our youth.
“We have to solve brain drain,” Monti said, citing places like Seattle and Denver, where millennials have been flocking to. “There are so many more things to do here. We’ve a long way to go.”
Nicholas Terzulli, director of business development for the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, said he is encouraged that “the tide is beginning to turn” in regards to creating a more attractive environment for the next generation of employees. But he also said that “it’s not happening as fast as we’d like.
“We’re not Denver, we’re not Seattle, but we’re starting to get things done,” Terzulli said, adding that the new Dealertrack complex in North Hills opening this month will employ more than 700 well-paid technology workers. Terzulli also said that new development should garner buy-in from the community as opposed to a top-down approach.
“Mayors and village boards have to allow for greater density,” he said.
Scott Burman, a principal of the Engel Burman Group, lamented that a vocal minority of opposition can still derail or seriously delay projects that promise to bring economic growth.
“Building quality development, that’s the solution,” Burman said.
Michael Schor, chief investment officer of The Treeline Companies, said real estate development has been hampered in Nassau County by high taxes and too many layers of government.
“We haven’t been able to take on the school districts,” Schor said. “We need a county executive to take this on.”
Seth Pilevsky, co-president of Philips International, echoed Schor’s sentiments.
“Property taxes are so high and development takes a long time,” Pilevsky said. “There are so many hoops you have to jump through.”
Ellen Rudin, executive director of CBRE, said the Island’s real estate market is doing well and has been fairly resilient. But she pointed out that redevelopment progress here still pales when compared with nearby places like Queens.
“In Long Island City there are 26 residential apartment buildings currently underway,” Rudin said.
A couple of the panelists advocated for reform of Article 78 lawsuits by development opponents which threaten progressive zoning efforts.
“It’s gotten more and more difficult,” Burman said, referring to dealing with NIMBYs deadset against development of any kind. “We’ve had to hire teams of people to fight misinformation. They don’t want to see anything change.”
The event was sponsored by Berdon Accountants and Advisors and Long Island Business News and moderated by Berdon’s Maury Goldbert. Berdon’s Marc Fogel also gave a tax and accounting update before the start of the panel discussion.