By Danny Schrafel
In the time-is-money world of development, it’s hard to believe that mere shovels in the ground would be considered a cause for celebration – especially nearly 15 years after a project’s conception.
But that’s the case with the Highland Green Residences on Ruland Road in Melville, where after a decade and a half of political and legal maneuvering, construction is, at long last, underway on the affordable-housing offset of the luxury senior community Greens at Half Hollow just up the block.
“It’s gratifying from a number of standpoints,” developer Peter Florey, principal of D&F Development, said Friday. “Most importantly, were able to get a consensus and get all the stakeholders involved, moving in the same direction, which is the best possible outcome.”
Florey said the footings in the ground are for the first residential buildings that will become a 117-unit, limited-equity co-op community, which, hopefully by early next summer, will be ready for residents to move in.
Supervisor Frank Petrone pitched that concept as a means of settling a decade-long legal stalemate between the town, which wanted single-bedroom ownership units on the Ruland Road site, and the Huntington NAACP, which wanted affordable rentals and a mixture of bedroom counts.
After multiple lawsuits, the Highland Green Residences project resulted as an outgrowth of a settlement, reached by the Huntington Town Board and the Huntington NAACP in February 2014, which called for building 72 one-bedroom units, 39 two-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units.
Ninety-three of the 117 units will be available to people whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the area median income ($44,150 for an individual, $63,050 for a family of four). The remaining 24 will go to those whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the median ($58,850/$84,100).
Veterans will receive a preference for 10 percent of the homes, as will physically handicapped applicants. Four percent will be set aside for those with hearing or vision disabilities.
Dix Hills’ Dick Koubek, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, believes “public opinion has shifted” favorably on affordable housing among town leaders and residents. In fact, the town will co-sponsor a rental housing summit with the Housing Coalition, Koubek said.
“We’ve come a long way in terms of what people think about affordable housing and density. There’s a recognition that we need to keep the young people here,’” he said.