About 1,500 people have expressed interest in the 177 apartments being built as part of the Wyandanch redevelopment, according to the Garden City developer constructing the units, mirroring the crush of potential applicants for rental complexes opening elsewhere on Long Island.
People started contacting the Albanese Organization Inc. in March after a banner promoting the apartments went up at the site.
"I think it says there's a dearth of rental housing of any type on Long Island," said Albanese executive vice president George Aridas. "And as Long Islanders, we should stop being afraid of renters as some kind of undesirable person who doesn't fit in."
Rental apartment developments in Huntington Station and Patchogue recently opened to residents, and also generated far more applications than units.
The number of potential applicants in Wyandanch was announced Monday night at a community meeting to update residents on Wyandanch Rising, the hamlet's long-term revitalization project. Hundreds turned out for the meeting, the first since Albanese began constructing one of two planned apartment buildings in July.
The apartment buildings, called Wyandanch Village, will have units ranging from studios to three bedrooms above retail space. The first building, which Aridas said should be completed in July, has 91 units. The second, due to be completed next spring, will have 86 units. Each building has 17,500 square feet of retail space. He said his goal is to have 40 percent of the retail space rented in the first building by November.
About 30 percent of the apartments will be rented at market value, Aridas said. There will be 107 units restricted to those with an income of 50 or 60 percent of the area's annual median income, and 18 units with a 90 percent income restriction. According to consulting firm Novogradac & Company of Manhattan, Suffolk County's median income for a family of four is $102,000. For a single person, it's $36,800. Applications for all units will be available in July and a lottery for the affordable housing will be held in August, Aridas said.
One of the most common issues at the meeting was the underperforming school district. Vanessa Pugh, chief deputy commissioner for the county's department of labor, said that the town has no jurisdiction over the district, "so our best hope is that improvements in other areas of the community will have a trickling effect."
Wyandanch school board president Nancy Holliday said she has concerns about whether the project will ultimately be a financial benefit to the community and the school district. Holliday cited the $22 million tax abatement given to Albanese by the Babylon Industrial Development Agency.
But hope for the project remains high among residents. "I don't believe that they would put all of that money out here for nothing," said Yvonne Robinson, 59. "This is a big investment and it's long overdue for us."