Affordable housing for veterans will soon be available in Huntington Station.
Town officials said they expected to be able to hold a lottery this fall for Columbia Terrace, a community featuring 14 units of owner-occupied, low-cost housing for military veterans on the west side of Lowndes Avenue, between Railroad and Columbia streets.
"We’re very excited for the project to be completed and to be able to offer these beautiful homes to our local Huntington veterans," Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said. "Suffolk is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the country, so this housing development is well needed in our area."
Under discussion since 2010, Columbia Terrace will have 6 one-bedroom, one-bath units and 8 two-bedroom, two-bath units. They are estimated to sell for between $233,250 and $253,250, town officials said. Eligible applicants, based on federal Housing and Urban Development income guidelines, will comprise the housing lottery pool.
Bayport-based Lipsky Enterprises Inc. signed a contract with the town's Community Development Agency in 2018 to build the condos for $2.9 million. Lipsky's final construction costs was $3,301,982.75 after numerous change orders, town officials said.
The CDA's mission is to serve the needs of low- to moderate-income residents through various programs and services funded by HUD and other sources.
Leah Jefferson, the director of the town’s CDA, which is overseeing the project, said the process to plan, build and sell affordable housing was complicated and resulted in a long timeline.
She said the initial plan was to have mixed ownership and rentals that was later changed and had to be done in conjunction with Suffolk County, which had purchased the property along with the town. Zoning changes had to be filed with the county and the state, initial contractor bids came in way too high. She said once ground was broken in November 2018, there were initial and ongoing problems between the engineer and contractor to ensure everything was done to code.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down final inspections with the town and Suffolk County health department.
"We are currently finalizing the offering plan after several corrections, which is an extremely long process as offering plans are usually between 320-500 pages detailing every facet of the project, " Jefferson said.
Once the state attorney general's office signs off on the offering plan, lottery applications will be available.
Deputy Supervisor Ed Smyth approved a payment to the projects engineer, Jeff Hartman, at the June 15 town board meeting but not before criticizing CDA practices such as not having a negotiated contract with Hartman and no breakdown of the exact services provided.
"The facts here call out for a close examination of the CDA’s practices going back to the inception of this project," Smyth said at the meeting.
Jefferson said there was no formalized contract with Hartman to work on the Columbia Terrace project, something that came to light during a state audit. Hartman has been paid $356,639.91 over seven years at a rate of $135 an hour.
"The CDA had consistently maintained oversight over all of his time and payments made to him," Jefferson said.
- $2 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
- $1.6 million construction loan
- $1.56 million Restore II grant from Empire State Development
- $250,000 Jump Start grant from Suffolk County for road realignment and sidewalks on Lowndes Avenue and Railroad Street.