Hempstead rejects $90M development

Hempstead Town Hall at 1 Washington St. in Hempstead Town Hall at 1 Washington St. in Hempstead. (Nov. 28, 2011) Photo Credit: JC Cherubini

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A proposed $90 million, 172-unit residential complex -- with 140 rental units -- will not rise on the hamlet of Harbor Isle, Hempstead's town board ruled Tuesday.

Developers Blue Island Development LLC and Posillico Development Co. at Harbor Island Inc. wanted to turn a 10.76-acre former oil storage and distribution site into 140 rentals and 32 condominiums. The site, located off Island Parkway South, just outside the village of Island Park, has been vacant for more than 10 years.

Town Councilman Anthony Santino and Supervisor Kate Murray released a statement to residents on Oct. 30 that said they planned to recommend that the proposal be denied, citing opposition in the community. The town board agreed, denying the project with a 4-0 vote.

"We believe the proposal does not fit in with the character of the neighborhood, and is wrong for Harbor Isle," the statement said.

The site is part of the state's brownfield program that seeks to clean up toxic waste locales. Officials for Posillico, the landowner, have said the estimated $12 million remediation job would not be done without approval to build something.

Company representatives plan to meet with Hempstead officials to determine what the town thinks is a reasonable use for the site, said Michael Posillico, managing partner for the Farmingdale firm. The firm received town approval to build 172 condos there in 2008, but the market for condo financing is too bleak to consider the option, he said.

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Posillico said he was baffled by the town's denial.

"Long Island needs multifamily housing. It needs contaminated sites to be cleaned up," Posillico said.

The development was to be called the Battery at Harbor Isles & Avalon Yacht View. It would have also included boat slips.

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Posillico began asking in March for the town to allow more rentals so Virginia-based Avalon Bay Communities could build the apartment buildings.

Matt Whalen, vice president of Avalon Bay, said he, too, was surprised by the denial. He said the project had "potential for new consumers that would help the downtown" of adjacent Island Park, which is recovering from superstorm Sandy.

But Mark Tannenbaum of Harbor Isle praised the town board for responding to community pressure to reject the project. Owner-occupied units are better for the community, he said.

"When you have rentals, you have turnover," Tannenbaum said. "This would be detrimental to this community."

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