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Westbury targets downtown development with $10 million grant

Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro and state officials have

Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro and state officials have formed a committee to determine how to make the most of a $10 million state grant to improve the village's downtown. The village on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A retail or entertainment center downtown. Incentives for businesses to restore blighted properties. More parking near the train station. Multifamily housing.

The mayor of Westbury has a wish list for his village using a $10 million state grant awarded last month.

Officials now have to work out the nitty-gritty planning details. Mayor Peter Cavallaro and state officials have formed a committee of village residents, business officials and Long Island planning leaders to determine how best to use the funds.

The goals, in the early planning stages, are broad.

Cavallaro said he wants to add more parking around the Long Island Rail Road station; improve the landscaping and build facades along Post Avenue — the village’s main street — as well as on Union and Maple avenues; and attract a retail or entertainment development to anchor the southern portion of the downtown corridor.

The village is among 10 downtowns in New York to receive the funding from the state’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“There are a lot of things that local municipalities want to do, but they never have the resources to — this is just an extraordinary additional resource we weren’t expecting,” Cavallaro said.

The village of 15,000 residents has a roughly $8 million annual budget.

Westbury is home to The Space, a performing arts center built for $10 million that opened in 2013 on the northern part of Post Avenue. But Cavallaro said he would like to see the southern part gain attention. A key goal would be “to attract a major employer to come and make an investment to the village,” Cavallaro said.

“We have a really long Main Street that is flat, and cars zoom through it like a speedway,” Cavallaro said. “What you do for one end will have no impact on the other end.”

In the village’s grant application, officials wrote that Post Avenue sees 22,000 cars per day. About 800 residences in multifamily developments have been added in recent years.

Cavallaro said the village’s needs may change from those in the application submitted in May — due in part to the Long Island Rail Road’s plans to add a third track on the Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, expanding the number of trains that can operate at once. The third-track project could fund new commuter parking, relieving the village of having to provide more. Dave Kapell, a committee member and former mayor of Greenport, said “the idea here is to use that $10 million as leverage for something much larger.”

State officials selected BJH Advisors LLC, a Brooklyn real estate development firm, as consultants for Westbury’s use of the grant money.

Village Trustee Beaumont Jefferson said the state funding gives Westbury an opportunity to extend a decades-long revitalization effort to cover the entire downtown corridor.

“We’ve done a fairly good job at keeping Post Avenue in decent shape,” Jefferson said. “With the funds that we received, it’s a great opportunity to kind of bring the whole vision together.”

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