Hempstead Village and Nassau County officials broke ground Tuesday on the first phase of a $2.5 billion downtown redevelopment — demolition of a former car dealership on Main Street.
After the ceremonial groundbreaking, Plainview-based developer Renaissance Downtowns plans to tear down the former Mack Markowitz Oldsmobile dealership on Main and Bedell streets in order to relocate the Dell Bus parking lot and construct a pair of buildings for mixed-use apartments, retail and restaurants.
“This day is finally here, I can’t ask for anything better than this,” Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall said during the ceremony Tuesday. “This is the hope of Hempstead. It’s going to bring jobs here in an area that’s hard-pressed and change the complexion of the downtown area. This is still the hub of Long Island.”
Village plans include a 10,000-square-foot office building and headquarters for the Dell Bus Co. on North Main Street, and another retail and apartment building across the street at Main and Bedell.
All four properties are being developed by Renaissance, Uniondale-based RXR Realty and Manhattan developer Urban America. Renaissance President Don Monti said they plan to submit the projects to an Industrial Development Agency for tax relief.
Monti said developers have committed 25 percent of 12,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs to Hempstead Village residents.
The four development plans were approved by the Hempstead Village Board and the Nassau County Planning Board.
Developers and village officials have been planning the 32-acre downtown redevelopment for nearly 10 years but have been hindered by setbacks related to economic challenges, property acquisitions and community opposition.
The village sold 14 vacant parcels to Renaissance last year for $8 million because the mostly vacant parking lots were off the tax rolls. Renaissance plans to develop 17 properties and build 1,000 apartments as well as shops, restaurants, a hotel, a movie theater and parking during the next eight years.
Hempstead Councilman Don Ryan, who is challenging Hall for Mayor, said Tuesday’s groundbreaking was encouraging, but he’s still concerned that Monti first submitted plans for 336 apartments on a Front Street parking lot before the Main Street development.
“While this is moving forward, I still have doubts,” Ryan said.