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Copiague Commons apartments attract hundreds of applicants

The developers of Copiague Commons held a lottery

The developers of Copiague Commons held a lottery at Babylon Town Hall on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, to determine the order in which applicants will be considered for the 90-unit affordable apartment complex. Above, construction at the site continued on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

More than 500 applications have been submitted for apartments in a $33.5 million, 90-unit, mixed-income development in Copiague that is a centerpiece of Babylon Town’s campaign to revitalize the South Shore hamlet.

Developers of Copiague Commons held a lottery at Babylon Town Hall Wednesday to determine the order in which applications will be considered.

About 30 applicants looked on anxiously as officials from the town, Suffolk County, the Community Development Corp. of Long Island and Rochester-based Conifer Realty took turns drawing names.

Officials said the attendees accounted for a fraction of the more than 525 applications submitted for apartments in the two four-floor buildings near the Copiague train station.

Renting from $1,169 to $1,850, and targeted at people making up to 60 or 100 percent of area median income, the one- and two-bedroom apartments offer a good deal in an area where affordable rentals are hard to find, applicants said.

“We’re literally pricing young and old people off the Island,” said Paul Westphal, a longtime resident of Amity Harbor whose application for a one-bedroom unit was among the first 90 selected. “I believe we could use two or three more of these in Copiague.”

Westphal, 64, cited damage his home suffered in superstorm Sandy as one reason he applied.

“It’s time to get off the water,” said Westphal, who added he is still waiting for state funding to complete repairs.

For Julia Meszaros, Copiague Commons’ proximity to the train station prompted her and her fiance to apply.

Meszaros, 26, a personal trainer who lives in Yaphank, was among the first names called Wednesday.

“It’s going to relieve my stress levels a lot with the commuting we have to do,” she said. Her fiance commutes 2 1⁄2 hours each way to his job at a school in Harlem, she said.

Gwen O’Shea, president and CEO of the Community Development Corporation, noted the diversity of applicants.

“It’s not just seniors or millennials,” she said. “It couldn’t be more evident how critical the need is for affordable housing on Long Island.”

Applications will now be reviewed in the order determined by the lottery, O’Shea said, although preference will be given to those affected by superstorm Sandy.

Qualifying applicants will be able to move in over the summer, she said.

Babylon Town Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez said the new tenants could provide a boost to business in the hamlet’s downtown, which was rezoned in 2015 to spur transit-oriented development.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of things happening this year in Copiague,” he said.

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