December 14, 2015, Newsday By John Asbury
Hempstead Village on Tuesday will transfer 14 downtown properties to a group of three developers as part of a $2.5 billion project to revitalize and transform the downtown.
The transfer of the properties, which are all parking lots, netted the village $8 million and is part of a master developer agreement signed with village officials, Plainview-based developer Renaissance Downtowns, and Manhattan-based developers RXR Realty and UrbanAmerica to add apartments, shops, restaurants, a hotel, parking and an entertainment complex with a movie theater over the next 10 years.
While the developers paid nothing for the 14 parking fields, the village will receive the $8 million from the developers under a community-benefit agreement. The first $1 million to the village will be paid this week with subsequent payments of $500,000 as the development is completed.
Officials and developers hope that the downtown project will kick-start an economic boom for the village, which has stalled in past decades with a third of the downtown properties off the village tax rolls. The project also includes $25 million in grant-funded sewer improvements. Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said he wants to restore the village to the downtown hub of Long Island it was in the 1960s before developments such as Roosevelt Field drew business away.
He said the project will create jobs, with at least 25 percent of the workforce reserved for Hempstead residents. Hall envisions Hempstead as a transportation hub for Long Island, with trains and buses going to Brooklyn and Manhattan. “That’s going to revitalize the whole downtown area and what we’ve been trying to do for the longest time,” Hall said. “We live in a village where we need to put people to work and this is how we plan on doing that in the future.”
The village planning board approved the first phase of the project. Developers have submitted four additional site plans to the village and plan to begin construction on the first site in April. Work is slated to begin on a five-story 336-apartment building and three-story parking garage on parking lots at Washington and Front streets. It will be followed by a five-story 28,000-squarefoot building with 240 mixed-income apartments above street level retail space at Bedell and Main streets.
“This is part of our commitment to enable beautification of downtown and encourage downtown development,” Renaissance CEO Don Monti said. “Our endgame is to create jobs and increase property values of the entire development for the village.” RXR CEO Scott Rechler said his plans for Hempstead will follow other redevelopment projects in Huntington Station and Glen Cove. Hempstead officials said the redevelopment will bring in millions of tax dollars to the village and schools while creating a better environment for residents
“The general workforce has a desire again for downtowns and revitalizing downtowns is the future of Long Island,” Rechler said. “These are places young professionals want to live and work, with good transportation, infrastructure, walkable downtowns and connected to Manhattan.”