By Danny Schrafel
A community benefits agreement between the Town of Huntington and Huntington Station master developer Renaissance Downtowns, which clears the way for groundbreaking on a series of proposed downtown revitalization projects, was approved unanimously Wednesday.
Ryan Porter, Renaissance Downtowns’ vice president of development, said after the vote he was “very pleased” with the decision.
“It was an extremely comprehensive process,” Porter said, noting the firm met with possibly “thousands” of people. “It was a really great collaboration with the community.”
The community benefits package calls for 25 percent of construction jobs to go to Town of Huntington residents, a goal which will be reached by enrolling residents in construction-skills apprenticeship programs. Similarly, the prime contractor will award at least 25 percent of the value of its prime contract to town corporations.
For the businesses that occupy the newly developed space, 25 percent of the new hires for the permanent, non-construction jobs will go to locals. In each case, Huntington Station residents will receive top preference, with a general preference going to Town of Huntington residents.
Support for community programs, such as the conversion of the New York State Armory on East Fifth Street to the James Conte Community Center, funding for the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center and crime prevention, education, emergency services, youth-oriented and other community programs will be drawn from funds generated by development projects in the area.
Monthly inspection of payroll records and reporting will be used to ensure compliance, with fines to be levied for those who fail to “use good faith efforts to meet the hiring/award goal” or fail to report.
The town board previously put the community benefits agreement on its Oct. 12 agenda for a vote, but with emotions running high over the stabbing death of Walt Whitman High School senior Maggie Rosales, the board delayed the vote and scheduled more talks to fine-tune the agreement.
“We’re pleased we delayed this because we wanted full participation,” Supervisor Frank Petrone, who sponsored the resolution to adopt the agreement, said. “People were generally in agreement... once they understood what this document really is.”
Renaissance Downtowns is envisioning extensive residential and commercial redevelopment along the Route 110 corridor near the Huntington train station, according to a development strategy approved by the town board in June 2013.
Along the New York Avenue corridor, LIRR commuter parking lots owned by the New York State Department of Transportation are being eyed for 21 “live-work” units, where apartments would be built above commercial space for retail and business use. At the end of the stretch, near the intersection with Church Street, 28 artist’s lofts are proposed.
The development would be near a 140-room boutique hotel and an approximately 100,000 square-foot office building in a municipal parking lot near the Long Island Rail Road station.
An additional 15,000 square-foot commercial building is planned for a parcel at the corner of Northridge Street and Route 110, and 68 apartments, split between studios and one-bedroom units, are proposed to be built over 16,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.
Those projects would replace several residential and commercial buildings between 1000 New York Ave., which the town owns, and Suite Pieces, the former Yankee Peddler antique store. Porter said a memorandum of understanding with three property owners along that stretch exists.
Also planned is a 14-townhouse Columbia Terrace development, an affordable housing project for veterans being developed by the town’s Economic Development Corporation at the corner of Columbia and Railroad Streets.