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Second phase of development plans for downtown Hempstead draws concerns, criticism

An artist's rendering of the proposed development on

An artist's rendering of the proposed development on North Main Street in Hempstead Village.

Developers submitted plans for the second phase of downtown Hempstead redevelopment this week, angering some residents and prompting a village trustee to question the future of the project.

Renaissance Downtowns is working with the owner of property at the corner of Bedell and Main streets to convert parking lots into a five-story, 28,000-square-foot building with 240 mixed-income apartments above street-level commercial and retail space.

The building is the second site submitted under a $2.5 billion project to renovate downtown Hempstead with apartments, shops, restaurants, an entertainment complex and a hotel over the next 10 years.

The second phase of the project is expected to cost about $80 million. The project has no cost to the village, Renaissance president Donald Monti said. The approval of the second site plan is to be voted on by the village in three to four months after a series of public meetings.

Residents packed Hempstead Village Hall on Tuesday night to oppose the project, citing concerns about traffic, public safety and its potential to increase the cost of living.

Village Trustee Donald Ryan said his support for the project was waning after the first site plan submitted in 2012 included only apartments rather than a mixed-use development.

"It's nothing more than a bait and switch," Ryan said. "The first time, you exposed yourself. You lost credibility and trust with that one."

The New York State Appellate Division is weighing a lawsuit by a group of residents who accused the village of limiting public meetings and concealing plans to approve the projects. Developers countered that they have held more than 250 community meetings and will continue to inform the public through the process.

"The village followed proper procedures of notifying the public," Mayor Wayne Hall said.

Renaissance officials said the project has widespread support in the community and that a new overlay zone for it was approved unanimously by the village board. Monti said Tuesday's opposition represented a "vocal minority" of residents.

"A very small minority of the overall population doesn't want to see anything happen, and that's not an option," Monti said. "This would not be approved if not for the overwhelming support from Hempstead residents. All the approvals are in place and we've demonstrated through a two-year process that people are finally glad to see something in Hempstead."

Some residents expressed concerns Tuesday that the development would force them out of the village with more expensive apartments.

"Are we trying to force out the population and force out the not-so-wealthy?" resident Juanita Wilson asked at the meeting.

Monti said the main goal of the project is to keep residents living and working in Hempstead rather than forcing Long Islanders to move out of the area.

"The last thing we want to do is displace a soul downtown," Monti said. "If anything, we're giving them an opportunity to stay."

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