A new, affordable apartment building for residents 62 and older is...

A new, affordable apartment building for residents 62 and older is part of the Wyandanch Rising redevelopment project. It has a community garden and artwork by local artist Salinda Santiago. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

A ribbon cutting was held Thursday in Wyandanch for a new apartment building that offers affordable units for seniors.

The building, 11 Park Drive Apartments, has 94 studio and one-bedroom apartments and is the fourth one constructed as part of the Wyandanch Rising redevelopment. The public-private revitalization effort includes 301 apartments, 246 of which are affordable. The second phase includes more apartments south of the Long Island Rail Road station and will break ground by the end of the year, said Russell Albanese, chairman of Albanese Organization Inc. of Garden City, the master developer of Wyandanch Rising.

“Wyandanch continues to rise,” Albanese told the crowd. “We have completed a lot, but there’s a lot more work to do.”

For this latest building, Albanese teamed up with Selfhelp Community Services Inc., a Manhattan-based nonprofit independent living organization. The building, which wraps around the front of the LIRR parking garage, is the first one in Suffolk County for Selfhelp, which has more than a dozen apartment complexes in Nassau and New York City.

The building is for renters 62 and older who earn 30% to 70% of the Area Median Income, which is between $20,910 and $63,699 for one person, and includes a full-time social worker on site. The property also has a community garden and artwork by local artist Salinda Santiago that was facilitated by the Babylon Council on the Arts. Rents range from $649 to $1,579. 

“Since Selfhelp’s beginning we have understood the importance of safe, affordable homes, and the recent experience of the COVID pandemic strengthened this understanding,” said Evelyn Wolff, executive director of Selfhelp’s realty group. “It reminds everybody that having a place to call home has direct outcomes on a person’s health, well-being and quality of life.”

Selfhelp also will offer assistance with benefits and entitlements, mental and physical wellness programs, and social events in the building. 

A lottery for the units held in April yielded more than 1,000 applicants, Albanese said. The building is nearly fully occupied, with 83 units taken.

The building was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Wyandanch school district against Albanese and the Babylon Town IDA seeking to overturn a 30-year tax abatement that is estimated to save Albanese $12 million. A judge dismissed the suit last year.

William Payton, 72, recently moved into the building and said he thinks of it as a “new beginning.”

“Being around people my own age is invaluable,” he said. “This is a blessing.”