The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is seeking proposals to turn a Westbury commuter parking lot by the Long Island Rail Road station into apartments, a development that officials are counting on to generate revenue for the agency and boost the local economy.
The announcement came nine months after Westbury Village rezoned a blighted industrial area to allow for residential development with higher and denser buildings near the station.
"We weren’t surprised by the [request for proposals]. We expected it," Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro said Friday. "The reason we included that parcel in the district that we created was because we felt it’s a surface parking lot, underutilized right near the train line, [that] would probably be a very good location for transit-oriented development."
The 1.6-acre property, which is a rectangular-shaped lot owned by the LIRR, is bounded by Post Avenue, Railroad Avenue, the train station and an adjacent property.
MTA officials said in a phone interview Thursday that the development would not only bring the agency lease revenue but also create housing stock for residents, generate tax revenue for the village and drive more traffic to downtown establishments.
"It’s a housing resource [for local residents] first," said Robert Paley, the MTA’s director of transit-oriented development. "Second, it will reinforce the local retailers. It will drive sales. People will be walking to the stores and restaurants. So, it’s a real benefit for the Main Street retailers."
The parcel is currently a commuter lot with about 311 parking spaces, according to the MTA’s RFP released Sept. 10.
But when a new garage with 683 parking spaces north of the station is completed next year, the site south of the station will be freed up to be used as laydown area for construction slated to begin in 2021 to revamp the Westbury station, according to the MTA.
The station upgrade, which is part of the Third Track project that aims to build a 10-mile third track on the LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022.
"What we would want to do is to coordinate the possession of the property with the completion of the Main Line expansion project so that when the contractors are finished … the developers would be ready to move in behind them to start the process of construction," Paley said.
In the RFP, the MTA noted that the building height limit is three stories, or 40 feet, in the subzone. But the height could be increased via zoning bonuses to five stories, or 65 feet.
Since the rezoning was approved in December, Cavallaro said there has been interest from developers but nothing formal has been proposed.
"There are several other potential projects that we’ve heard percolating," Cavallaro said. The agency is "the first property owner that’s taken any formal steps to try to develop a proposal under the new zoning."
The deadline to submit a proposal is Nov. 20. The MTA anticipates selecting a developer in the first half of 2021, according to Paley.