Hempstead Village is poised to get $46 million in infrastructure and program grants over the next decade as village trustees move ahead with a $2.5-billion downtown redevelopment, Mayor Wayne Hall said Tuesday during his annual State of the Village address.
Hall defended the controversial plan to build apartments and mixed-use residential and shopping buildings on several vacant parking lots over the next 10 years, saying the village needs to build around its rail and bus stations to make Hempstead a destination.
“This is the hub of Long Island access to Manhattan,” Hall said. “It makes sense you should build around your transportation hubs and we’re not taking advantage of that.”
The project, fully funded by Plainview developer Renaissance Downtowns, was saved for the end of Hall’s speech, which also highlighted the village’s A- bond rating, a 26 percent drop in crime and youth programming.
“It is my goal to have government as transparent as possible,” Hall said. “I have nothing to hide from people. I’m just a humble person and I’m not getting anything out of it. My goal is to make Hempstead a better place for all of us.”
Hall said the downtown development will create a path of new funding for the village, which passed a cash-strapped $79.9 million budget last year while raising taxes more than 6 percent. He said police retirements and savings will limit the village from piercing the 0.12 percent tax cap this year.
Hempstead is receiving a $20 million sewer pump grant from Nassau County and $5 million in sewer improvements tied to the project from the state’s Empire Development Corporation, Hall said.
The village also received its first $1 million as part of an $8 million payment plan for 14 downtown properties that were transferred last year to Renaissance, Uniondale developer RXR Realty, and Manhattan-based UrbanAmerica.
More than a third of the village properties are either tax exempt or not creating tax revenue, Hall said. He said the village is losing on a potential $250 million in annual revenue each year the project stalls. It was proposed in 2008.
Hall said the village is also bidding for a $10 million grant from the state for job training and redevelopment to build on existing youth programs. The mayor said he will contact BOCES and the Hempstead School District to use elective credits for work study and vocational programs.
“It takes a village to raise our kids. We have to work with the school district to make sure they’re job-ready if they want to work or go to college,” Hall said.