Bull dozers wasted no time demolishing some of the last remaining walls of the former Avis Rent-A-Car headquarters at 900 Old Country Road Monday in E. Garden City.
The razing makes way for a 330,000 square foot shopping plaza to include retail, banking and food establishments. Avis moved its headquarters to New Jersey a decade ago. The vacant site, which is located near Roosevelt Field Mall, became an eye sore on the busy corridor.
A grand opening is scheduled for fall 2012.
"It's one of the few times that we can say that by tearing something down we are building something else up at the very same time," town supervisor Kate Murray said at a morning press conference at the construction site.
Equity One, Inc., a shopping center real estate investment trust developing the site, is dubbing the project "The Gallery at Westbury Plaza" and intends to designate more than 315,000 square feet for retail, nearly 11,000 square feet for restaurant use and more than 3,200 square feet for a financial institution.
Equity One, which owns nearby Westbury Plaza, anticipates receiving property tax relief and sales tax exemptions for construction and materials from the town's Industrial Development Agency (IDA), a non-profit, public benefit agency that promotes "economic development and jobs by helping businesses grow with financial assistance and tax relief."
"It gives us no greater joy to see what the possibilities are for this site," said Jeffrey Olson, CEO of Equity One, Inc. "We've already started the process of transforming an old abandoned warehouse facility into a vibrant retail destination ... We're building this to own this for the next generation."
Olson, who believes Old Country Road is one of the "strongest retail corridors in the nation," said there's no place Equity One would rather be in terms of investing its money.
"Everyone understands the challenges our current economy presents for individuals, municipalities and corporations," he said. "Our company has made strategic decisions over the past few years to help us meet those challenges and allow us to make investments like this one, which is more than $100 million."
Murray said the project is a "direct investment in the economy through direct construction and related expenses" with an expected 600+ permanent jobs created and an estimated $4.5 million in annual sales tax receipts generated.
The town board unanimously approved Equity One's site plan and the Hempstead's board of appeals granted variances allowing a "reasonable increase in the allowable density of the development" and relief from "other zoning restrictions."