The furious pace of new development in downtown Farmingdale may be headed for a slowdown after the village board considers the latest apartment building proposal, Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said.
A four-floor, 54-unit apartment building with commercial storefronts on Main Street being proposed would bring the total new units developed since 2012 in the downtown and train station area to 311. That’s close to the 375 units the village’s 2011 master plan envisioned being built out downtown over 25 years.
Hauppauge-based developer Staller Associates Inc. is scheduled to present the project at a public hearing on March 5. The hearing had been scheduled for Dec. 4 but was postponed because the board had questions about it.
“After the Staller project, the board’s intention is to sit back and take a look and see how things are going,” Ekstrand said. “Staller will probably be the last project for a little bit of time in the downtown.”
Ekstrand said the upper limit of new residential units was tied to limitations of infrastructure, availability of parking and impact on traffic. The new developments in the downtown area — completed, in progress and proposed — would increase the housing stock in the village by almost 9 percent from the 3,482 reported in the 2010 U.S. Census.
Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, an organization that advocates transit-oriented development, said he was not surprised by the flurry of development.
“We knew it was going to move at this pace,” Alexander said. “There was pent-up demand.”
Community support at the hearings in Farmingdale has outweighed opposition, but “that may start to change as you get to the final sets of projects, as the parking issues get more challenging,” Alexander said.
Two other recent projects by Staller are adding 47 apartments in and around the downtown area. The 20-unit Loft at 231 Main Street is 100 percent occupied, Ekstrand said, and the 27-unit Loft at 285 Eastern Parkway is due to open in February.
The developer’s new proposal, named The Loft at 333 Main Street, would be built on the site of a shuttered CVS pharmacy and other stores and would require an alley from Main Street to a municipal parking lot to be moved. The new building would reduce existing commercial space to 7,888 square feet from 25,525 square feet. A representative from Staller said the reason for the reduction was to reduce the need for parking. Even so, the plan calls for 87 parking spaces to be constructed under the apartments — three fewer than required by the village for the number and configuration of apartments.
Ekstrand said the village board is not going to budge on the required residential parking.
“It’s wrong for the apartment dwellers to take spots away from our downtown retail,” Ekstrand said.
The Staller representative said the project’s cost is estimated at $18 million. Staller’s other downtown projects in Farmingdale benefited from tax breaks in the form of payments in lieu taxes, known as PILOTs. The representative said the company has not decided whether to seek a tax break for the new project.