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Hempstead town board to vote Tuesday on Baldwin development

The Hempstead Town Board is to vote Tuesday on a contract to redevelop downtown Baldwin, officials said.

The town board last year approved Woodmere-based Basser-Kaufman and Garden City-based Engel Burman Group to be the project’s master developers for the urban-renewal plan.

The town announced Tuesday’s vote in a news release last week saying that Supervisor Anthony Santino and Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who represents part of Baldwin, will propose the contract.

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, who represents the downtown area of Baldwin, was not mentioned in the release. Town spokesman Mike Deery said he reached out to King Sweeney to include her in the release but she declined.

In an interview, King Sweeney said her proposals for ethics reform, contract evaluations and transparency in light of recent events — including the arrest of Councilman Ed Ambrosino on income-tax evasion and wire fraud charges — have gone unanswered. She has abstained from previous votes on contracts and said she plans to do so on this one, too.

“So now, of course, the biggest vote that I’m dying to vote for comes and I don’t see a way around it,” she said Monday.

The redevelopment plan calls for mixed-use buildings on the west side of Grand Avenue, north of Merrick Road, and the north side of Merrick Road, west of Grand Avenue, the release said. Apartments will be housed above retail and restaurants in an area that’s within walking distance to a train station. Officials are hoping to attract young professionals and families who want to downsize.

Previous efforts to revitalize the hamlet’s downtown have failed, but Santino said the real estate and business economy has strengthened since then.

“Together, we can bring about exciting and sustainable growth that will restore luster to the business district of one of the loveliest communities in Hempstead Town,” he said in the release.

If the legislation passes, the developers will pay $4 million in immediate startup costs, Deery said, and land acquisition sales cannot exceed $15 million.

The developers would acquire property through private sales, but eminent domain is an option if that isn’t possible, the release said. The developers also plan to ask for tax breaks through the town’s Industrial Development Agency.

Hempstead Town would complete appraisals in the 90 days after the contract is approved, officials said.

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