Special Report: Who pays the highest taxes on the North Fork?

04/01/2012 8:00 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Tanger pays the most taxes of any commercial property owner in Riverhead.

We decided to take a look at who pays the highest taxes in each town on the North Fork, starting today with Riverhead Town and continuing next week with the properties paying the most money in Southold Town next week.

Most of the properties in Riverhead with the largest assessed values, the method used to determine tax rates, are either fully or partially tax-exempt because they’re owned by nonprofit or government entities.

That said, the following list reveals Riverhead’s top taxpaying businesses, residential properties and vacant properties, along with the properties with the highest assessed values. Figures were provided by Riverhead Assessor Laverne Tennenberg and Tax Receiver Maryann Heilbrunn.

HIGHEST ASSESSED VALUE: EPCAL

The Enterprise Park at Calverton, the former Grumman property, is the highest-assessed property in Riverhead. In Riverhead, assessments represent about 15 percent of full market value.

But since the undeveloped acreage is owned by the town, it generates no tax revenue. All told, the town owns 1,980 acres at EPCAL. The 500-acre industrial core, which contained the hangers, tower and other buildings once used to build and test naval aircraft, were sold to developer Jan Burman in 2001, who in turn sold off individual properties.

The town also sold 42 acres of vacant land at EPCAL to Island Water Park in 2003. That area was to be developed into an artificial waterskiing lake, but while large quantities of sand have been removed, there is no lake.

Next on the assessed value list is Central Suffolk Hospital, which changed its name to Peconic Bay Medical Center several years ago but still goes by its old name as a corporation.

The hospital is nonprofit and thus doesn’t pay full taxes, although according to Ms. Heilbrunn, it does pay taxes to the sewer and water districts, as well as sewer fees, that total $99,425. If it were not exempt, the hospital would pay about $4.3 million in taxes, according to town records.

BIGGEST INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER: TANGER OUTLETS

Ranked third in terms of the assessed value, but topping the biggest taxpayer list, is Tanger Properties LP, which owns the Tanger II section of the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. It pays full taxes, totaling just under $2.5 million yearly.

Tanger I, the westernmost part of the Tanger complex and the one built first, is owned by Howard T. Hogan Jr., a Locust Valley attorney whose father was a former state Supreme Court judge. Mr. Hogan’s land, on which full taxes are also paid, has the seventh highest assessed value in Riverhead and pays the second-highest tax bill at $1,672,420.

The grand total in property taxes for the two Tanger sites (the Office Max/Pottery Barn building is part of Tanger II) is $4.1 million.

In between the two Tangers on the assessed value list are two more tax-exempt properties: Suffolk County’s Griffing Avenue court complex, which pays $25,208 in sewer and water district taxes but would pay nearly $2 million were it not exempt, and the Riverhead School District property that stretches from the high school to Pulaski Street School. That complex pays $51,613 in sewer and water district taxes and, were exemptions not in place, would also pay just under $2 million in taxes.

The Riverhead Centre shopping center on Route 58, home of Home Depot and Best Buy, is the town’s third-highest taxpaying property, with an annual bill of $1,437,034.

That complex is followed by Traditional Links golf course on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow, $690,198; East End Commons Associates (Kmart/BJ’s), $601,666; Realty Income Corp. (Splish Splash), $506,027; Centro Heritage Roanoke Plaza (TJ Maxx), $484,271; and Agnes Stark (Glenwood Village), $431,435.

The Long Island Power Authority also pays $526,357 in property taxes, although that amount doesn’t apply to any one LIPA property.

BIGGEST RESIDENTIAL TAX BILLS

What are Riverhead’s top taxpaying residential properties?

Number one is the Sound Avenue, Jamesport, home of Robert Entenmann, who also owns the adjacent Martha Clara vineyard and horse farm, and who used to own the family bakery business, Entenmann’s.

The most recent tax bill for Mr. Entenmann’s three-acre property reached $56,900, according to town records.

The next highest residential tax bills went to Philip Swotkewicz’s 11.83-acre waterfront property on Peconic Bay Boulevard in Jamesport ($48,473) and Lenny Tarzia’s 2.5-acre property on Crescent Court in Wading River ($38,079).

BIGGEST TAX BILLS ON VACANT LAND

Some of the highest taxed vacant properties are commercially zoned and aren’t expected to be vacant for long. In one case, the site has already been developed since the tax records came out.

Number one is Heritage-Riverhead Retail Development’s property, the 40-acre former Hazeltine site on Route 58. That property, across from Riverhead Raceway, is the subject of a pending site plan application for a 270,000-square-foot shopping center that would include a Costco Wholesale Warehouse store.

The taxes on the property were $398,464, according to records.

Number two on the vacant land list — the former home of Suffolk Life Newspapers on Route 58 — is now occupied by Lowe’s.

When tax records were prepared in March 2011, it was still considered vacant and the tax bill was a relatively low $286,795. The Lowe’s store is now open for business, but with new tax rolls not yet finalized the new tax bill won’t be known until later this year.

Third on the vacant list is a 21-acre property owned by Headriver LLC, on the north side of Route 58, across from Tanger. It has a tax bill of $118,473.

That site is slated for a new Walmart store. The town approved the work, but construction has yet to begin.

When it comes to vacant residential land, the prize for highest assessment belongs to the Tosco Corp., which owns a 23-acre parcel just west of the ConocoPhillips tank farm on Sound Shore Road in Northville. Tosco pays $60,492 in property taxes.

Riverhead’s Top 10 Taxpayers

1. Tanger Properties LP (Tanger II) — $2,429,886
2. Howard T. Hogan Jr. (Tanger I) — $1,672,420.
3. Riverhead Centre — $1,437,034
4. Traditional Links — $690,198
5. East End Commons Associates (Kmart/BJ’s) — $601,666
6. Wildwood State Park, Wading River — $530,629
7. Long Island Power Authority — $526,357
8. Realty Income Corp. (Splish Splash) — $506,027
9. Centro Heritage Roanoke Plaza (TJ Maxx) — $484,271
10. Agnes Stark (Glenwood Village) — $431,435.

tgannon@timesreview.com

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