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Baldwin awarded $10 million to help revitalize downtown

On Tuesday, at a news conference at Baldwin High School, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Baldwin will receive a $10 million downtown revitalization grant to fund beautification projects and boost mixed-use development. Credit: News 12 Long Island

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that Baldwin will receive a $10 million downtown revitalization grant to fund beautification projects and boost mixed-use development.

Cuomo made the announcement at Baldwin High School with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, who have been advocating for redevelopment on Grand Avenue in the hamlet. Hempstead officials said they are planning to rezone to attract developers.

Baldwin was one of 100 applicants statewide and selected on Long Island among 10 regional winners for $100 million in state funding.

“Baldwin did a great plan. First you built on your assets. Baldwin is on the Long Island Rail Road. Everything is transit-oriented development,” Cuomo said. "The ambition of your program — an 87-acre rezoning — and what I find most fascinating about the plan, is I believe it will actually happen.”

The Town of Hempstead's Baldwin application includes plans to improve traffic and parking, pedestrian walkways and street beautification and encourage mixed-use buildings with apartments and businesses. 

“I think Baldwin has something that not many communities have,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “Everyone was pretty much on the same page. It is absolutely time for our downtown to live up to the greatness of our community. Let’s get this done.”

The grant to Baldwin was recommended by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which considered criteria such as a well-defined downtown, potential for future public and private investment, impending job growth and creating an attractive and livable community.

The Hempstead Town Board next month will discuss creating a development zone that will bypass some variances and environmental hurdles. The proposal has the support of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and Republican Majority Leader Erin King Sweeney.

“Growing up, this corridor was so vibrant and so many stores bustling with life,” Gillen said. “Over time we saw businesses fail and that beautiful corridor suffered a decline. But we’re here today to revitalize it like never before.”

The proposal by the town focuses on development of individual properties, rather than a previous plan to redevelop the entire corridor along Grand Avenue. Previous developers backed out of the project after the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency did not grant tax breaks to redevelop the site.

Baldwin has already received $800,000 in state storm recovery funding and $1.5 million in public-private partnership to develop properties in the Grand Avenue Urban Renewal Area.

King Sweeney, whose district includes Baldwin, said the application was attractive to the state because of bipartisan support and buy-in from the community. 

"Downtown Baldwin is one vacant store after the next. I think that rips at the heart of the Baldwin community. For a variety of reasons development hasn’t happened," King Sweeney said. "People are desperate for development to happen and a kick-start of the community. It’s long overdue and an embarrassment it's taken this long. I can’t wait to put a shovel in the ground."