CPF Revenues Still Down, But Riverhead Sees Spike

Riverhead, CPF
The Suffolk Theater in the heart of downtown Riverhead, where a revitalization effort is afoot.
Taylor K. Vecsey

The first five months of data for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) show revenues are still lower than last year, but the figures remain at historic highs. While all five East End towns are seeing less CPF money, Riverhead Town has taken in nearly 50% more so far in 2022.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., the architect of the 2% tax on all real estate transfers, reported that 2022 revenues totaled $89.59 million for the first five months of the year. The figure is 4.4% lower than the same period in 2021 when $93.69 million was collected by the five towns.

“Real estate activity is less than a year ago,” Thiele said in a statement. “However, CPF revenues in 2022 remain at historically high levels when compared to revenues before the pandemic. Revenues for the first five months of 2022 are the second highest in the 24-year history of the program.”

In the last 12 months, the CPF has generated $206.5 million in revenue.

But, as the real estate market has slowed a bit in 2022, so have the revenues under the community preservation fund. In May of 2022, $17.29 million was brought in, as compared to the $18.52 million in May of 2021.

All of the towns have seen a decrease in revenue, except for the Town of Riverhead, which saw a 47.2% increase after the May figures were tallied. Riverhead collected $4.21 million in the first five months of 2022, as compared to $2.86 million in the same period last year.

On Tuesday, Thiele attributed the spike to two things — commercial sales and value.

For instance, a manufacturing plant on Elton Street, vacant since 2018, sold for nearly $4.5 million in March. Also in March, a 10,000-square-foot freestanding building on Old Country Road for office or medical space use sold for $1.8 million.

Riverhead, CPF
The manufacturing plant at 680 Elton Street, about 1.3 miles from downtown Riverhead, sold in March for nearly $4.5 million.Taylor K. Vecsey

Thiele says that more people have purchased homes in Riverhead, “looking for value after the rapid ramp-up of prices in the other four towns.”

In addition, “Riverhead had gotten some positive publicity by winning the $10 million state downtown grant which would spur commercial,” he says.

In January, the Empire State Development Corporation awarded the Town of Riverhead a $10 million grant under the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant funding program that will be used to continue the next phase of long-running efforts to turn around the economically struggling downtown.

Meanwhile, the other towns have experienced a downturn on the CPF front.

The Town of Shelter Island experienced the biggest decrease of 41.6%, collecting $1.35 million instead of the $2.31 million it saw last year.

East Hampton Town has taken in $28.3 million for this time period, down 7.9% from the same period of 2021 when $31.04 million was collected.

Meanwhile, the Town of Southampton saw only a slight dip of 3.2% with $49.99 million in revenues. Last year, it collected $51.62 million in the first five months.

Southold Town experienced the smallest decrease with 2.1%. The town collected $5.73 million so far in 2022 versus $5.85 million last year.

Since the CPF program began in 1999 it has generated $1.9 billion.

The 2% tax under the CPF expires in 2050.

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