Construction has started on an affordable rental development with 50 apartments in East Hampton that won praise Wednesday from elected officials for addressing the area’s housing shortage.
Georgica Green Ventures and the East Hampton Housing Authority are developing the project, which will cost $33 million, at 290 Three Mile Harbor Rd.
The apartments will be affordable for renters earning at or below 60% of the area median income, and eight of the units will be affordable to renters earning no more than 30% of area median income. For an individual, those thresholds are $30,550 to meet the 30% limit and $61,080 to meet the 60% benchmark on Long Island. For a family of four, the limits are $43,600 and $87,180, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The developers received state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, $3.4 million from the state Homes and Community Renewal Housing Trust Fund and $350,000 from the Federal Housing Trust Fund. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the development is part of her five-year housing plan, released with the state budget, to create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes in the next five years.
What to know
- Georgica Green Ventures and the East Hampton Housing Authority have started work on 50 apartments in East Hampton
- The apartments will be available to people earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income
- The project aims to address the shortage of affordable rental housing on the East End, which officials said has had ramifications on the local economy.
The buildings include Energy Star appliances, electric heat pump heating and hybrid electric hot water heaters.
The project is expected to be completed in 18 months, with the first tenants moving in late next year.
"Three Mile Harbor will create 50 new, energy-efficient homes and provide opportunities for working families in East Hampton,” Hochul said in a statement.
The complex is made up of five two-story buildings with 10 one-bedroom apartments, 29 two-bedroom apartments and 10 three-bedroom apartments. The units range from about 700 square feet to 1,100 square feet.
Three Mile Harbor will also include five units that are adapted for people with mobility impairments and three designed for people with hearing or visual impairments.
Suffolk County supported the project with $2.2 million in subsidies, as the county faces higher rents and record home prices, County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement
“Suffolk’s funding of this development is an investment in our community and helps ensure a future in Suffolk County where residents can afford to stay,” he said.
Building more affordable housing on the East End is critical for the region’s economy, said Richard Murdocco, an adjunct professor in economic development and planning at Stony Brook University.
Three Mile Harbor “addresses a real-world need,” he said. “People in the service industries, first responders, teachers, nurses — the East End is its own economic ecosystem and it needs the ability to house people who aren’t multimillionaires in finance.”
Still, Murdocco said 50 units is a mere drop in the bucket and more cooperation across levels of government is needed to address the Island’s housing shortage. The governor’s attempt to boost the housing supply by requiring local governments to authorize more accessory dwelling units failed in February after officials across the state objected to the proposal. They cited concerns about infrastructure, such as sewer and water services, as well as the policy’s elimination of local control of zoning.
“Affordable housing is one of the largest planning failures in the Nassau-Suffolk region,” Murdocco said. “The fact that all of this fanfare is surrounding a 50-unit development shows you how difficult it is to tackle the affordability challenge in this region.”
Other recent projects built by Georgica Green include Riverview Lofts, which added 116 apartments in Riverhead, and Gansett Meadow’s 37 units in Amagansett.
Public investment in projects such as Three Mile Harbor is needed given the inability of the free market to meet locals’ housing needs, said Catherine Casey, the East Hampton Housing Authority’s executive director.
“The scarcity of decent, reasonably priced rentals is now affecting all economic strata; even businesses and individuals with significant resources are feeling the effects,” she said. “Housing is now on everybody's agenda.”
One proposal to boost affordable housing is through the creation of the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund, which would increase the transfer tax on homebuyers to 2.5% from the current 2%. The additional 0.5 percentage points would fund affordable housing initiatives, while the original tax supports the Community Preservation Fund’s land preservation and water quality initiatives. First-time homebuyers and sales below $400,000 are exempt, with the full 2.5% tax phasing in for homes above $2 million.
Hochul approved the fund last year but local voters must approve it through a referendum. Voters in the towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island will have that option Nov. 8. The Town of Riverhead opted not to put the fund on the ballot.
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who represents the region, said approval of the community housing fund “will greatly expand additional housing options for local families.”