Special fees could provide $18.5 million to Hempstead

The Village of Hempstead. The Village of Hempstead. Photo Credit: J.C. Cherubini, 2011

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Hempstead Village stands to collect $18.5 million in funds over an eight-year period from zoning fees relating to its $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment project, village officials and developers said.

The village board voted, 3-2, at Tuesday's night meeting to adopt fees for a special downtown zone for the revitalization project. Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., deputy mayor Henry Conyers and trustee Livio Rosario voted to approve the resolution. Trustees Perry Pettus and Donald Ryan voted against it.

"We tried to generate enough fees to help the village get the funds it needs, while not making fees so high that it would scare developers," Edward Scott, senior managing director of Manhattan-based UrbanAmerica Advisors, said after the meeting.

The firm is working with Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns on the downtown makeover; the two companies proposed the fees.

The modified zone, called a downtown overlay zone and adopted by the board in July 2012, divides the area into four districts: hospitality and entertainment, transit, commercial transition (smaller commercial buildings with some housing) and downtown edge (largely residential). Buildings would be capped at 120 feet, about eight to 10 stories.

The special zone allows property owners to choose to "opt-in," which would permit mixed-used development -- apartments over commercial space. Property owners would have to agree to honor the controversial community benefits agreement with the project's master developer approved in January.

The fee schedule includes site plan review fees, submission fees to the planning board, building permit fees -- and fees to fund the jobs/business and local contracting centers, and to help create or improve civic spaces.

Total fees could cost developers about $1,500 per residential unit and about $15 per square foot for buildings with other uses.

"I want to know where we are going with this and how this would help the taxpayers," said Ryan, who wanted to know before voting who would manage the fee collection and oversee the developer's adherence to the community benefits agreement.

Fees collected would go into the village's general fund, Hall said. A portion would go toward funding a $5 million renovation of Mirschel Park, he said.

With the March 19 village election looming, trustees engaged in a heated exchange over the rumored hiring of Jack Prophet's Rockville Centre-based management company Urban Strategy LI Inc. to oversee the fee plan.

Rosario questioned the developers about their relationship with Prophet, whom they said they have known for several years.

ABBA Leadership Center director Reginald Benjamin called for a village resident to be hired instead.

"This is not for management. This is not for jobs. This is just about establishing fees," Hall said. "We're always stalling and we need to finish this up."

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