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Babylon Town board will approve incentives for affordable housing in Copiague, supervisor says

Babylon Town hall on Aug. 30, 2003.

Babylon Town hall on Aug. 30, 2003. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

The Babylon Town Board will at its Sept. 29 meeting approve key building incentives for a proposed $21 million affordable housing complex in downtown Copiague, Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said this week.

Conifer Realty, a Rochester-based firm that specializes in affordable housing and owns and operates 220 apartment complexes, including five on Long Island, has proposed two four-story buildings with 56 one-bedroom and 34 two-bedroom apartments for a two-acre parcel at 54 Railroad Ave., higher and denser than zoning allows.

The project would be one of the first under new zoning covering 31 acres around Great Neck Road and the Long Island Rail Road station in Copiague.

Passed by a unanimous town board vote last spring after years of work by town planners, the zoning is intended to spark redevelopment of an area dominated by low-rise industrial and commercial buildings. Planners say it could usher in an estimated $144 million of private construction over the next decade.

In return for the approvals, Conifer would make improvements to Railroad Avenue and build a courtyard between the two buildings that would be open to the public. Along with cash donations to local services, the developer's contributions would top $1 million, company representatives have said.

"This is part of the deal, that they make a serious investment not just in the building itself but in the Copiague community," Schaffer said after Tuesday's board meeting. "That's a very positive outcome."

Some hamlet residents dispute that. They say the project would worsen congestion along Great Neck Road and burden local services, including schools they say are already crowded. Some also warn that affordable housing will attract low-income residents who are unlikely to have the spending power to underwrite an economic renaissance.

Conifer executive vice president Andrew Crossed said Tuesday that the project would serve "professional youth and seniors." Rents on one-bedroom apartments would range from $1,150 to $1,300, and for two-bedroom apartments from $1,375 to $1,500, Crossed said.

The one-bedroom units would be open to tenants with a household income between $44,000 and $77,000; the two-bedroom range would be $50,000 to $96,000.

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