By Danny Schrafel
New residential developments are being considered for a stretch of state-owned parking lots along New York Avenue as part of Huntington Station master developer Renaissance Downtowns’ revitalization plans.
Ryan Porter, a vice president for development at the firm which has been working with town officials on those efforts for the last two years, shared those plans Monday during an presentation and Q&A session at a Huntington Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board meeting.
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.
Renaissance is helping the town lobby the state to turn over title of the property to the town, Porter said.
“The state just owns title to it,” Porter said, arguing the town’s continued use and maintenance of the lots has made them akin to a “quasi-owner” of the stretch.
The development would be adjacent to a proposed 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.
The first proposal expected to be built is the 14-townhouse Columbia Terrace development, an affordable housing project for veterans being developed by the EDC at the corner of Columbia and Railroad Streets.
“We’re coming close to building permits,” Porter said of the project, which received site plan approval from the town’s Planning Board Sept. 3.
Porter said the proposals reflect a desire to work within current zoning classifications as Renaissance devises plans to develop underutilized parcels. A new overlay district was created by the town in February of this year to allow the hotel concept to proceed.
In terms of the stretch of “live-work” homes, the property is currently parking fields; Porter stressed that Renaissance would “replace all the utilized parking that exists in the Station” as redevelopment occurs.
A community benefits agreement, mandated by the town, is also nearing completion, he added.
Discussions about the package began in the first half of this year, culminating with a large-group meeting with community stakeholders in June, Porter said. That was later whittled down to a group of seven.
Current plans, Porter said, are pointing toward requirements to ensure that 25 percent of construction and permanent jobs generated by Renaissance projects are filled by locals, and 25 percent of the contracts awarded by a prime contractor go to local firms. Community programs, with a focus on education and youth, would be earmarked for the $300,000-plus in benefit funds generated by initial Renaissance projects, and future allocations would adhere to the same rules.
“We’d like to focus it more on localized efforts – jobs and programs directly located to the community that are collaborative in nature and not directed at one specific group,” Porter said.
Huntington School Board President Emily Rogan urged Porter and Renaissance not to “reinvent the wheel,” but to bolster existing programs.
“What we need is more support not just from Renaissance, but from everybody,” Rogan said.
Porter stressed that those enhancements would be complementary, not competitive.
“The last thing I want to do is duplicate efforts. That makes zero sense,” he said.
Porter agreed to keep school district officials informed, and said he met with Superintendent James Polansky on Friday.