Baldwin residents and Hempstead Town officials are hoping revitalization begins with a new $100-million mixed-use development planned for Grand Avenue, but they’re also hoping the parking and traffic burden doesn’t fall squarely on residents of a neighboring block.
The Grand at Baldwin is a 215-unit transit-oriented rental project proposed by Breslin Realty Development Corp. for the area south of Sunrise Highway between Grand and Harrison avenues adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road station. The driveway for the proposed development, which also includes 5,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, would empty onto Harrison Avenue with no restrictions on the direction drivers can travel on the residential street. Traveling north would take them to Sunrise Highway, but anyone heading south on Harrison Avenue would pass more than two dozen homes before hitting Merrick Road, the next major thoroughfare.
“While I am excited about the project, I am terrified of the impact it is going to have on Harrison Avenue,” said Michelle Oder of Bixby Drive, a ring road connecting to Harrison immediately south of the proposed development. Oder was one of about 10 residents who commented on the proposal at a two-hour Hempstead Town Board public hearing Monday.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin agreed the Harrison Avenue driveway “is a concern,” as he fears the road could become a cut-through for trucks making deliveries to the development.
“Maybe we can come up with some signage to try and direct traffic … to push it toward Sunrise,” Clavin said.
Rebecca Goldberg, civil engineering director at Cameron Engineering in Woodbury, told the town board the traffic flow is based on a longstanding access management policy of New York State and Nassau County to place driveways on the side of the least-traveled roadway of a project with multiple frontages.
Goldberg said the proximity to the train station — a 450-foot walk from a doorway on the Sunrise Highway side — should help mitigate traffic impacts. The property also includes 284 parking spaces, 63 spots above code requirements.
Overall, residents expressed excitement that the project — more than a decade in the making — is finally taking steps forward. New York State awarded a $10 million downtown revitalization grant for Baldwin in August 2019, with $2 million designated for the former used car parking lot where the mixed-use building has been proposed. A mixed-use overlay district was created to give the town oversight on the proposals as they move forward. The Grand at Baldwin has the support of the local chamber of commerce and civic groups.
“We’ve sat back and watched the rest of Long Island be developed and see all these beautiful projects, communities turned around, but never Baldwin,” said Grove Street resident Susan Cools, whose family spans six generations in the community. “I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been.”
Councilwoman and Deputy Supervisor Dorothy Goosby said the next step for the developers will be an environmental review process beginning in November.
The units at The Grand at Baldwin would range in price from $2,550 per month for one of 46 studio apartments to $3,500 monthly for the 31 two-bedroom units. It would be $2,700 to 2,800 per month to rent one of the 138 one-bedroom units. A total of 22 of those units would be offered at a reduced price for income-eligible tenants.