Brookhaven City Council on Sept. 8 approved the city’s first-ever bond issuance to buy a Skyland Drive office building that could become a permanent City Hall or the new Brookhaven Innovation Academy, among other possibilities.
The bond-based purchase of the state-owned building at 2600 Skyland Drive is still contingent on a full financial review. If city staffers don’t like what they see, they can pull the plug before the Nov. 1 deal date.
“I like the deal,” said Mayor Rebecca Chase Williams during a City Council work session discussion. “I’d hate for us to pass up this opportunity.”
The state wants $2,790,000 for the 44,000-square-foot building and its 5-acre parcel. The city would issue up to $2.9 million in bonds to make the purchase via the city Development Authority. The state would continue to lease the building—currently used for vital records storage, among other things—for two years for at least $223,000 per year, which is expected to cover the interest payments on bond debt.
The deal has some complexity. The Development Authority would issue city-guaranteed bonds for the purchase and lease the property to some nonprofit entity, which in turn could sublease to the state. That nonprofit could be a school or some other organization, possibly including a New York State nonprofit that often facilitates city property purchases. City staff said they have had preliminary discussions with a couple of area schools about serving as the go-between, but the new BIA is not among them.
City Councilmen Joe Gebbia and Bates Mattison are board members of BIA. City attorneys advised that there is no conflict of interest at this point for Gebbia and Mattison to discuss and vote on the Skyland building deal. However, Mattison chose to recuse himself from all discussion and voting anyway, saying he had promised to do so earlier to avoid even an appearance of ethical conflicts.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the potential annual rent for the Skyland building as a potential monthly rent.