Dealertrack, North Hills spar over signs for HQ

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An artist's rendering shows the Dealertrack Technologies world headquarters in North Hills.

Dealertrack Technologies’ new world headquarters is nearly ready to open in the Village of North Hills, but the company had to make concessions Wednesday on one last thing: signs.

The village Board of Trustees approved five of the six signs the software company asked to erect before it cuts the ribbon on the $100 million office building next month.

Trustees had no problem with four signs on the ground at the property, located at 3400 New Hyde Park Road near the Long Island Expressway’s South Service Road.

But they rejected two lighted signs that Mayor Marvin Natiss said would make the village “as bright as Times Square.”

“You’re promoting Dealertrack with illumination, and I’m offended by that, personally, because this is a predominantly residential village,” Natiss said at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Dealertrack wanted to place one bearing the company’s name and logo on the east and west faces of the building, each about 40 feet long. The board approved only one, facing west, with no lights.

The company will also install signs at the two entrances to the property on New Hyde Park Road and the South Service Road, and two signs with its name at the corner of the property near the intersection of the roads.

Michael Fex, Dealertrack’s senior director of real estate and facilities, said the large building signs would help employees and visitors from around the world identify the offices.

Having them lit at night sends a message that the building is “open for business,” especially when it gets dark early in the winter, Fex said.

“As proud as you are to have us, we’re so proud to be in that building and be neighbors, and we do want to make it known that we’re Dealertrack,” Fex said at Wednesday’s meeting.

But Natiss and other trustees said a sign facing east was unnecessary and that any lit signs would disturb residents living east of the building.

The board objects to illuminated signs generally, Natiss said. It voted Wednesday to only allow the signs at the corner of the property to be lit during the building’s business hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Natiss rejected Fex’s claim that the building signs were necessary to help people find the landmark office, saying their only purpose was for “advertising.”

Dealertrack, a maker of software for car dealers and manufacturers, employs about 40,000 people worldwide, including about 550 in its current Lake Success headquarters, Fex said.

The sign approval is among the last steps required before a June 21 ribbon-cutting at the office, which has cost more than $100 million to build. Dealertrack plans to hire about 300 more employees once its staff moves into the building in July, Fex said.

Dealertrack secured $18.6 million in combined tax breaks for the building in 2014, from both the state’s Empire State Development and Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agency.

The building has been a source of grief in North Hills previously. The Board of Trustees objected to plans for an outdoor balcony for guests there before ultimately approving them. And residents have expressed concerns about future traffic problems, prompting the board to plan a traffic study for after the building opens.

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