Trangucci Backdoors Campaign Contribution from a Real Estate Developer Who Sought a 30-Year Tax Abatement Worth Millions

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Council Member Louis Trangucci took a large campaign contribution from a company owned by Louis Iacopetta after voting to approve a 30-year tax abatement worth millions of dollars for Craft Apartments, a development deal owned by another Iacopetta company.

Trangucci took $1,000 from Iacopetta , under the corporate name LJI Management Corporation after approving a generous tax abatement deal for Quintessential Associates LLC, also owned by Iacopetta. The campaign contribution was taken by Trangucci on May 3, 2019, according to campaign disclosure documents seen by Talk of the Sound.

At an October 2017 Council meeting, Trangucci advocated strongly for Iacopetta’s project despite concerns raised by Council Members Al Tarantino, Jared Rice, Barry Fertel and Mayor Noam Bramson that the project was significantly underestimating the number of school-age children expected to reside in the building (just two children in the first 15 years) and that there would be a dramatic cost impact on school taxes and class sizes at Columbus Elementary School and Isaac E. Young Middle School.

Between the size of the abatement, the 30-year term and the dubious projections of the number of children, the Quintessential Associates deal is exactly the sort of deal Trangucci would have vigorously opposed in the past. Trangucci was once known for his strong opposition to 30-year tax abatements when he first came into office 12 years ago. He has claimed (falsely) that he reduced a 30-year tax abatement granted to Avalon 1; Avalon made an accelerated payment on its taxes due under a PILOT in anticipation of selling the property to another real estate company.

Trangucci has come under fire in the closing weeks of the 2019 campaign for his acceptance of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from real estate developers doing business with the City of New Rochelle.

“My number one thing is I would never take money from developers,” said Martha Lopez in a swipe at Trangucci for his reliance on real estate developers to fund his campaign.

Lopez, Trangucci’s Democrat challenger for the District 1 Council seat, made the statement last night at the NAACP New Rochelle Branch Candidate Forum. Trangucci was a no-show at the event.

Trangucci and Iacopetta who have known each other since childhood, appear to have attempted to obscure the source of the campaign contribution from Iacopetta, a local developer who owns LJI Management Corporation located at 162 Washington Avenue. Trangucci is known to frequent Iacopetta’s offices. Iacopetta paid $1.8 million to purchase 3 parcels of land in District 1: 164 Union Avenue (Win-Rite Plumbing), 172 Union Avenue (a warehouse), and 176 Webster Avenue (Battaglia Brothers market). The parcels were bundled into what has become the $27.3 million Craft Apartments project on Union Avenue between Webster Avenue and 1st Street.

Officially, the developer is Quintessential Associates LLC which was incorporated on September 15, 2017 as a domestic limited liability company type registered at 162 Washington Avenue in New Rochelle, which happens to be the headquarters of LJI Management Corporation, owned by Iacopetta.

Quintessential Associates has sought millions of dollars in financial support from various state agencies and the City of New Rochelle.

On June 13, 2016 the New Rochelle Industrial Development Agency voted unanimously to approve financial assistance to Quintessential Associates in the form of exemptions from sales and use taxes, exemptions from mortgage recording taxes and an abatement of real property taxes.

According to the Daily Voice, “the New Rochelle City Council has approved a tax abatement plan that will save the developers $6.7 million in property taxes over 30 years…the combination of state government bonds, loans and tax credits account for 87 percent of the project’s development costs.”

The developers have asked the state housing agency for a $17 million, tax-exempt affordable housing revenue bond issue to fund a mortgage, an $8,960,000 mortgage loan and 4 percent tax credits worth more than $8 million over 10 years. Other government funding sources for the project include another state tax credit for $308,798 annually and a $1.2 million loan from the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

The Craft Apartments project consists of 75 units in a six-story building with two ground-floor retail spaces and parking for 89 vehicles. According to news accounts at the time the project was announced, the 75 units are designated as affordable housing, with 10 studio apartments, 55 one-bedroom apartments and 10 two-bedroom apartments. 52 units are reserved for people making no more than 60 percent of Westchester’s median income, 12 units are set aside for people with developmental disabilities making no more than 50 percent of Westchester’s median income and 11 units to residents making no more than 80 percent of Westchester’s median income. 30 apartments will be reserved for seniors.

Some West End residents have complained that Trangucci promised them they could live in the Craft Apartments but then reversed himself in June 2019 claiming that the developer changed his mind and would only allow residents age 55 and above to live in the apartments.