Floral Park village officials are finalizing the remaining details on the $1.2 million sale of the historic Centennial Hall, which a real estate developer plans to convert into apartments.
Hewlett-based The Friedman Group and Floral Park have created a sales contract and are negotiating the last few details, said Mayor Dominick Longobardi. Friedman plans to build 16 to 18 units that are one or two bedrooms across four floors, village officials said.
“They’re going to be incorporating the facade of the building,” Longobardi said. “And while they will be demolishing the interior, the columns and the majesty of the building as you come into our village will be kept.”
Guy Friedman, CEO of the Friedman Group, could not be reached for comment.
Centennial Hall is an 8,500-square-foot, four-columned Greek Revival building on Tulip Avenue that was built in 1925 and used primarily as a Masonic temple. In 2004, Floral Park Lodge No. 1016 Free and Accepted Masons sold the building to the village for $1.5 million. The village used Centennial Hall to house the Floral Park Historical Society between 2005 and 2015.
During a special meeting on June 28, trustees approved by a 5-0 vote entering into contract negotiations with Friedman. Longobardi told residents during the meeting that Centennial Hall is “in major disrepair.” He said the Friedman contract features a 30-year deed restriction that bars Centennial Hall from being used for anything other than residential use.
Village officials have not determined how the money from the sale will be used, Longobardi told residents. There is no date for when the sale will be finalized, but the deal means Floral Park can once again collect property taxes on the building.
Some residents said they were concerned about where new apartment residents would park, and others said the sales price is too low.
“Some of the private houses in the village are now being sold for that amount,” said Crystal Harris, who lives on Verbena Avenue. “If we’re looking at a building that size and it's going to generate that much rent — 16 to 18 units — it seems as though the village is being shortchanged.”
Friedman has not disclosed rental rates for the apartments.
Longobardi said the village received six offers for Centennial Hall and all, except one, had a lower selling price than $1.2 million.
“The offer we have is one of the best offers we got,” he said.
The parking lot connected to Centennial Hall has 22 spots, but the village is negotiating with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to have that space rebuilt to create 26 spots, Longobardi said. Overflow parking would be housed just north of Tulip Avenue at the Creedmor Spur parking lot, he added.
Joseph Serra, of Ash Street, said he opposed Centennial Hall apartments, telling trustees that “this is not Queens. If you want apartment buildings, there are apartment buildings in Queens.” Fellow resident Salvatore Bonagura, who lives on Chestnut Avenue, said he is thrilled that apartments are coming because the next generation of Long Islanders needs a place to live, too.
“This village has gone 50 years without any [housing] planning for senior citizens or millennials,” Bonagura said. “A 30-year-old can’t buy a $700,000 house here for their first house.”
THROUGH THE YEARS
1925 - 2004 | Centennial Hall was built and used by Floral Park Lodge No. 1016 Free and Accepted Masons
2005 - 2015 | The Village of Floral Park used the building to house the Floral Park Historical Society
2015 - 2018 | The Village of Floral Park hired CB Richard Ellis to market and sell the building after village officials determined that Centennial Hall was no longer suitable for government use