Plan for N. Amityville mobile home park on track

Alexis Gadsden stands on the lawn of her Alexis Gadsden stands on the lawn of her North Amityville home, overlooking the 50-year-old mobile home park directly across the street. Gadsden and other residents are worried about a planned development that will replace the mobile home park with 500 new apartments. (April 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Danielle Finkelstein

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A developer who seeks to replace a North Amityville mobile home park with apartments has been granted tax abatements from the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency and is moving ahead, despite lawsuits aimed at stopping the project.

The IDA has given R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview a 10-year deal starting with an 85 percent abatement that decreases 8.5 percentage points per year. IDA head Robert Stricoff said tax revenue for the park is $680,000 and this amount is guaranteed for each year. The estimated savings for the developer is $12 million.

R Squared -- the sister company of Rechler Equity Partners, both of which are managed by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler -- wants to build 500 apartments with retail space on the 20-acre site. The park has more than 300 mobile homes, and many of the residents -- who own their homes but pay about $600 in rent to stay on the property -- say the homes are too old to move. And many people in the park are seniors or disabled, residents said. Town officials have said the park will be condemned for health and safety violations if it is not brought up to code or redeveloped.

Stricoff said R Squared is investing $120 million into the project. "Developments that increase the assessed value [are] a positive for the entire town," Stricoff said.

Site work is slated to begin later this year and major construction on the first phase of development early next year, Stricoff said. In a statement, Gregg Rechler said the project will "spur economic development and provide much-needed housing options."

The project is to be carried out in five phases, with Phase I calling for the removal of 64 homes in the park's northwestern area closest to Route 110.

The park's civic association has filed three lawsuits to stop the project, all of which remain before Justice Joseph Pastoressa in State Supreme Court. The association's lawyer, William Rapp, said he will ask the judge for a stay to stop construction until those cases are decided.

Last July the town board approved a relocation plan for the park's residents, but a finalized plan has not been completed, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said. He said it will likely be presented at the next town board meeting on July 16. The plan will be administered by the Long Island Housing Partnership and paid for by the developer, he said.

Linda Kavun, a resident in the Phase I area of the park, said she feels "completely in the dark," unaware of the IDA deal or that the developer is moving ahead. Kavun, 61, and her husband Ed, 68, a retired veteran, have lived in the park for 15 years, investing more than $10,000 into their mobile home, she said. Living off Social Security and disability payments, Kavun said the couple will not be able to afford to live in the new apartments.

"We had no intention of going anywhere and we have no money to go anywhere," she said.

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