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North Hempstead to build affordable housing for seniors at site of former elementary school

The 77-unit complex of townhomes in New Cassel could be completed by next summer, officials said, and will consist of prefabricated construction material.

Town of North Hempstead officials have lauded the

Town of North Hempstead officials have lauded the site's proximity and walking distance to shops and the Yes We Can Community Center.   Photo Credit: North Hempstead Housing Authority

A 77-unit affordable housing complex for seniors will be built in New Cassel at the former site of a blighted school demolished four years ago.

At its Tuesday meeting, the North Hempstead Town Board voted 7-0 to approve the site plan for the construction of six two-story townhomes at the corner of Grand Street and Broadway.

Officials said the development will help address the pressing need for affordable senior housing in the town.

“The Grand Street development will provide some of this much-needed senior housing in a convenient location within walking distance of local shopping and our Yes We Can Community Center,” said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

The units will be eligible for residents 62 and older who earn between 30 and 60 percent of area median income, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere. The median income for all cities across the country is defined each year by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The 2018 area median income for the New York City region is $93,900 for a three-person family.

The complex will consist of 60 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom unit for managers. All units will be handicap accessible or adaptable, and stairways will be wider than required to accommodate electric chairlifts, said one of the project's attorneys, Jessica Leis of Uniondale-based Forchelli Deegan Terrana Law. 

Leis added that the development is within walking distance of stores on Prospect Avenue and the community center.

There are 76 proposed parking spaces, and down the line the town plans to add several dozen more spots in a parking lot adjacent to the property.

The former Grand Street School property is owned by the North Hempstead Housing Authority and is being developed through its shareholder-owned Housing Development Fund Corporation.

The Grand Street School, which was built in 1926, was once an elementary school, and then became a day care and community center before sitting vacant for decades before being demolished in 2014. The school had previously been categorized as a brownfield site, a property that may contain hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

Five years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the town $200,000 for cleanup.  Remediation at the site was completed in 2013.

Sean Rainey, executive director of the North Hempstead Housing Authority, said that the planning for the redevelopment had been years in the making and that the community supports the project.

“We’re getting several phone calls a day asking about the new development,” Rainey said. “We have about 5,000 people on our waiting list [for senior affordable rental units].”

Payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to Nassau County will last for two years of construction and then 30 years. PILOTs will amount to $35,000 and  will increase by 2 percent each year, Rainey said. The Housing Authority is  finalizing state affordable housing tax credits for the $25 million project, and Rainey said they expect to close on them in the fall. After the tax credits are secured, the Authority and its developer, Jericho-based Georgica Green Ventures LLC, will order the prefabricated homes from Simplex, a Pennsylvania-based building company.

“We have never done it [prefabrication] before,” Rainey said. “It really made sense on this site; it’s flat, it’s a relatively easy site to work with. And the price was better.”

If all goes well, the units could be ready for occupancy by next summer, officials said.

SCHOOL DAYS

The former Grand Street School was built in 1926 to educate elementary students. Other facts about the site:

  • The town purchased the site in the 1980s and deeded it to the nonprofit New Cassel United Community Center Inc. 
  • The town reacquired the property in 2012 and transferred it to the North Hempstead Housing Authority in a swap for easements on an adjacent parking lot and Alvan O. Petrus Park in Port Washington
  • The school, deemed a brownfield site with chemical contaminants, was razed in 2014 

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