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Islip OKs plan to rehabilitate foreclosed homes

A proposal to rehabilitate foreclosed homes in Central Islip as part of a nearby mixed rental-owner housing development — considered a first on Long Island — got the nod from the Islip Town Board Wednesday night.

But approval came only after a robust discussion of how much money the developer will actually spend in meeting his commitment.

Coventry Gardens, a townhouse-style project, is slated to be built by Jobco Realty Construction on the northwest corner of Eastview Boulevard and Lowell Avenue, on the grounds of the former Central Islip Psychiatric Hospital.

Faced with a tanking housing market and healthy demand for rentals, Jobco asked two years ago to change the mix of the project — originally approved as 284 condominiums — to include 100 rentals.
In exchange for not having to build the requisite 20 percent affordable housing, it was suggested the developer contribute to revitalizing the adjacent neighborhood.

The result: Jobco agreed to spend a minimum of $2 million rebuilding distressed and foreclosed homes in the 15-block neighborhood. Working in conjunction with the Long Island Housing Partnership, which will administer the program, Jobco will then resell the houses, but must have $500,000 committed at all times and must do the revitalization for a minimum of five years.

The proposal was backed by the town’s planning department, but some Central Islip residents spoke out against it Wednesday, noting while it appeared novel, Jobco stood to make a handsome profit on the resales.

Deputy planning commissioner Jeanmarie Buffett said the agreement “incentivized” Jobco to continue working to revitalize as many homes as possible during the period.

After lengthy discussion, the proposal passed unanimously.

Supervisor Phil Nolan summarized Jobco’s position as “entrepreneurial risk,” estimated the number of homes to be rehabilitated at 15 to 20, and said the area is “much in need of private sector investment.”

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