Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo awarded Hempstead Town a $458,470 grant Thursday to redevelop and revitalize downtown Baldwin along Grand Avenue.
The grant was unveiled Thursday afternoon by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) and Hempstead council members Erin King Sweeney and Dorothy Goosby, along a deteriorated stretch of closed businesses across from a bowling alley and billiards hall.
The state grant will kick off a multimillion-dollar redevelopment for commercial mixed-use businesses on Grand Avenue. Officials said the $458,000 will pay for site plans to attract business and provide landscaping and parking.
“This is the most critical component to develop Baldwin further,” Kaminsky said.
The grant falls under the state’s Restore New York Communities Initiative.
Town board members approved an agreement in September to name Woodmere-based Basser-Kaufman and Garden City-based Engel Burman to be master developers of the Grand Avenue urban renewal plan.
The total $53 million project calls for 25,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and about 140 apartments units to be built from 2408 to 2416 Grand Ave., north of Merrick Road.
Board members applied for the $458,000 grant, which follows previous commitments from the state to Baldwin, including LIRR improvements and a $5 million project to rebuild a bridge over Merrick Road.
Kaminsky said local officials have reached bipartisan agreements to help attract business and improve Baldwin’s economy.
“We know attracting tenants is the key to revitalizing Baldwin,” Kaminsky said. “There are too many empty stores here.”
King Sweeney called the development the most important project in the district she shares with Goosby.
“I cannot wait to break ground on Grand Avenue,” King Sweeney said. “We’re working hard to make Main Street great again.”
The town has attempted to redevelop the business district for more than a decade, but previous attempts with developers have failed, in part due to the recession.
Town officials will attempt to acquire vacant properties through private negotiations, but reserve the option of using eminent domain. There is no target date for work to begin once plans are drafted.
Baldwin Civic Association President Karen Montalbano said she hoped the grant funding would get the downtown revitalization started.
“This project has taken a long, long time,” Montalbano said. “This is a great incentive to get the project moving along faster. Money is always an issue in development.”