Hotel in Huntington’s old town hall will be a Hampton Inn

The hotel proposed for the old Huntington Town Hall will be a Hampton Inn & Suites, officials said.

The $24 million project has been awarded $2.8 million in tax breaks by Suffolk County.  

Developers Rosario C. Cassata and George Tsunis said they signed a franchise agreement with Hilton last month to have the 80-room hotel bear the Hampton Inn name.

They intend to buy property adjacent to the historic 1910 town hall at 227 Main St. and across the street for parking, Tsunis said last week.

The town hall building will be converted to the hotel’s lobby, breakfast room and gym. A 53,636-square-foot addition will house the guest rooms.

Huntington Town Board meetings were held for decades in the space that will become the breakfast room, according to Tsunis.

The tax breaks awarded last week by the county’s Industrial Development Agency include $1.8 million off property taxes for 15 years, or a savings of 33%.

The IDA granted the tax incentives using a tourism exception to the state law that prohibits helping retailers.

Tsunis said the tax breaks are necessary “because the returns [profit margin] are skinny. This is not an easy project,” he told the IDA board.

Cassata and Tsunis own the 143-room Hampton Inn in Commack. Tsunis is CEO of Chartwell Hotels, which runs nine hotels. Cassata has built apartment communities with a total of 1,100 units.

Both have pledged to adhere to the IDA’s Long Island First policy, which requires that tax break recipients buy materials from local companies and employ local construction workers. Unions have protested projects aided by tax incentives that employ out-of-state contractors and workers.

“I have been part of other situations where we have imported labor,” Tsunis said in response to a question from IDA board member and union official Joshua Slaughter. “Not only did it take a lot longer [to build], not only was the quality not there … but at the end of the day it wasn’t worth it.”  

Records show about 100 construction workers will build the new Hampton Inn. The hotel will have 14 employees who will earn $39,700 per year, on average.

IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano said the agency backed a different hotel proposal for the old town hall in 2014 with $3 million in tax breaks over 15 years. However, that project never materialized.

“More than 90% of the people who will use the hotel will be from outside of Long Island,” Catapano said. “The hotel will attract visitors to Huntington, but it needs IDA assistance to come to fruition.”