LI Herald: Two apartment developments approved for Baldwin, will be first new buildings in Grand Avenue Urban Renewal Area
By Ben Fiebert // May 14, 2023
The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency has approved two apartment projects in Baldwin, which officials said could act as a catalyst for future redevelopment in the community.
The IDA approved the two projects on April 18, giving the green light to Breslin Reality Inc., to move forward with construction of an apartment complex by the Long Island Rail Road station, and to the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, to build the other one at 785 Merrick Road.
The projects will be the first in a zoning overlay called the Grand Avenue Urban Renewal Area that was created by the town in 2008 to encourage investment and redevelopment.
“These two projects will provide multiple benefits to the town,” Fred Parola, CEO of the town’s IDA, said. “In addition to serving as a catalyst that will bring much-needed change to Baldwin and increased economic activity in the community, it will remove long-time eyesores, alleviate a shortage of rental housing in the town, and provide increased revenues to the various taxing jurisdictions.”
Baldwin Jaz, an affiliate of Breslin, plans to demolish a former car storage facility at the southeast corner of Sunrise Highway and Grand Avenue, and replace it with a five-story building. The building would contain 47 studio apartments, 132 one-bedroom and 36 two-bedroom units, with 10 percent set aside as workforce housing. The blueprints also include a 5,000 square-foot restaurant on the ground floor, as well as retail space and parking for 251 cars.
“So this will have a minimal impact on the school district, as this apartment complex may generate only three or four kids in the school district,” Parola said.
In addition to the apartments, a park would be created to link Grand Avenue with Sunrise Highway. The $106 million project, to be called the Grand at Baldwin, would create 350 construction jobs and seven full-time jobs after two years. Baldwin Jaz received a sales tax exemption, a mortgage recording tax exemption and a 30-year payment In lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement from the IDA.
The site’s taxes are roughly $105,000, and the project is expected to add $2.4 million to the tax base at the end of the proposed PILOT. The PILOT agreement would total $34.4 million, compared with $5.2 million that would be collected without the project.
“Again, this is going to increase taxes that would not have been there, which is helpful to the community, school district, town and county,” Parola said.
Baldwin Commons, on Merrick Road, which is expected to generate 75 construction jobs, would consist of a four-story building with 11 apartments per floor on the second, third, and fourth floors, including 27 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units. The plan also calls for space for a rental office, mechanical systems, maintenance office, fitness and laundry rooms, as well as a community room on the ground floor.
According to the IDA, “The Baldwin Commons will be affordable to households at 60 percent of the area median income. Approximately 30 percent of non-age-restricted affordable apartments will be leased to seniors.”
“So this is a workforce housing project,” Parola said, “and this is a project that deals with housing and bringing people into the area.”
The Baldwin Commons proposal received a 20-year PILOT with an option for a 10-year extension if the project remains in compliance with terms of the benefits package, which includes the PILOT and mortgage recording tax, as well as sales tax exemptions.
“The current taxes are $28,000,” Parola said. “Once this apartment is built, the taxes will be $135,000. So there will be additional taxes, which is a benefit to the area in terms of generating more than they would otherwise be.”
Earlier projects planned for the Grand Avenue Urban Renewal Area failed to materialize. Parola said that the two latest proposed complexes are different because the town “toned down the size of the projects.” According to Parola, this will help guarantee their success.
He noted that the projects involved a great deal of community input. “This was extensively pursued by the town,” Parola said. “And we had a lot of community input from the civics, from local community folks, and when we had our hearing, no one appeared in opposition.”
Parola said he expected construction to start as soon as possible. “They want to move quickly,” he said about the developers. “They have to have all the conditions, preconditions and zoning completed. So we’re the last stop with the financing. It’ll probably take six to nine months probably to get into a situation where they’ll be ready to get tenants in there and have it as an ongoing economic project.”