More than 300 Hempstead Village residents and business owners had an opportunity to sound off about the village's downtown revitalization plan -- and they questioned whether jobs created by the project would go to residents and how developers would address safety in the community.
The project developers -- Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns and UrbanAmerica, a New York City real estate investment firm, both hired by the village in January -- presented the preliminary Main Street Project Conceptual Plan during a special village board meeting on Thursday in the Hempstead Public Library.
The development team and village officials envision a combination of condominiums, co-ops and rental apartments ranging from studios to town houses for various income levels. It would also include a hotel, a mix of shops, open spaces, parking and entertainment venues.
The $2 billion projected cost would be paid for by the developers and private-property owners, tax credits, bonds and grants. The proposed plan should be finalized in 12 to 18 months. The entire project could take about a decade to complete, developers said.
Residents at the meeting generally expressed support, but said they were concerned about the village's high crime rate and aging infrastructure.
"People are absolutely correct that the sewers are crumbling," Renaissance chief executive Don Monti said Friday, adding that a village environmental impact study determined the village has space for more people. "What we have been saying to everyone is that it is going to be very difficult to get money to fix the sewers without a development project."
Residents also wanted to know whether they would get jobs from the project. Developers say it is expected to create more than 3,500 permanent jobs and 10,000 construction jobs. The village has an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, according to the state Labor Department.
"Our concern is about the local community getting jobs," said the Rev. Reginald Benjamin from the ABBA Leadership Center, while the audience clapped and cheered.
The developers said a community benefit agreement would address those concerns.
The project would strengthen the tax base in a community where properties comprising nearly a third of the village's assessed value are tax-exempt. The developers said they plan to target underused sites like parking lots, which make up 50 percent of the number of properties downtown.
At the meeting, village board member Livio A. Rosario pointed out the lack of Hispanic presence at the meeting and said Hispanic residents need to be more involved in the process.
"People question the involvement of the Latino community, but the Latino community will be involved and engaged in this," George Siberon, executive director of Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, said after the meeting.