The Mineola Village Board has given final approval to a residential apartment complex that would be built upon the land at 250 Old Country Road, otherwise known as the Keyspan Building.
Mineola Properties, LLC with applicant Robert Kahen and Kevin Lalezarian of Lake Success-based Lalezarian Developers, will construct a residential housing complex consisting of 283 market-value units and 32 next-generation first responder units on the site.
Several years ago the village established a community planning committee to evaluate challenges and opportunities, of residents that promoted the “Master Plan,” which included the revitalization of the downtown area and was meant to promote such developments.
The building was originally owned by LILCO before being transferred to Keyspan. It was bought by MTA in 2005 in order to obtain the property where the intermodal center now sits. Since then, neither the village nor any other taxing entity has received real estate taxes from the property. After lobbying by the village, the MTA finally sold the property.
The project was originally comprised of 257 condo units, but due to the economic downturn and the collapse of the condo market as well as the veto power held over a condo project by the Village of Garden City.
At a May 23 hearing, the village board critiqued the proposal involving concerns height of the building on the Old Country Road side, the sheer “bulk and massiveness” of the building as an almost unbroken edifice, the number of units - approximately 340 proposed - including incorporation of studio apartments, general architectural features and the proposed number of parking spaces.
On June 20 a revised design was submitted to the village that lowered the perimeter building height, reduced the mass of the building facing Old Country Road, being of a more aesthetically pleasing nature, eliminating studio apartments and lowering overall apartment count to 315. However, the design did not comply with village parking regulations per unit of 1.5 spaces per unit. Through talks the developer eventually agreed to increase the per-space count to reach the requirement. There would also be 12 visitor-dedicated parking spaces.
Architects maintained the 343,000 sq. ft. building, adding 20 three-bedroom units, have kept the orientation toward Third Avenue, carved out a portion in the middle of the building for a pool, and set the penthouse units back from the facade of the building.
The apartment breakdown is as follows: 166 one-bedroom at 750 sq. ft., 127 two-bedroom at 1,050 sq. ft. and 22 three-bedroom units.
Demolition of the building would take place in spring 2013 with new construction commencing thereafter.
During the December 19 meeting of the village board at the village hall, trustee Paul Cusato said that he originally was going to vote no but changed his mind, fearing now in the future that another developer would come and request to build a higher building
“I think... somewhere down the road we need to establish a height limitation,” he said. “We used to have one years ago. I’m concerned with the extra pressure it’s going to put on the fire department and the ambulance corps. to protect the people inside. I know they’ll do the job, I’m not questioning their talent, I’m just concerned with the more people in the building to create more problems. I do have a big issue with the height of this building.”
Deputy mayor Paul Pereira agreed that he did not want the village to become a “haven” for these types of developments but “there’s only a finite number of developments that we will ever be able to approve where a developer could assemble these kinds of lots along the Old Country corridor that would not impact... our one-family and two-family residents. We certainly don’t want to come north over the other side of the bridge and have this kind of density, this kind of building in our residential community.”
The original developmental incentive bonus payment for development to the village was $2.5 million, but was increased to $3.1 million in accordance with the increased number of units. The developer will also offer streetscaping around the perimeter of the building.
A 20 year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) will be made to the village that will start at $9,137 in 2015 and grow to $160,220 in 2034. The community benefit agreement amount will go from $268,864 in 2015 to $327,256 in 2034. Payment of the $3.1 million in developmental bonus money is as follows: $620,000 at each of the following intervals: upon issuing of a building permit; upon certificate of occupancy; upon first anniversary of the issuing of the certificate of occupancy; upon the second anniversary of the issuing of the certificate of occupancy; upon the third anniversary of the issuing of the certificate of occupancy
Trustee Lawrence Werther stated he “was a bit disappointed in the PILOT,” stating he was hoping for something more in line with the Nassau IDA (industrial development agency) policy manual, closer to 10 years and pointing to the school district only receiving $50,000 in the first year.
“The economic developments are beyond a doubt, it’s something I’ve expressed many times during the original hearings,” he said. “I just hope it’s worth it. There’s a lot of seniors I see moving out of the village because the school taxes are too burdensome.”
Werther did tell the developers that after researching the firm “you are good developers, you are good landlords, despite my concerns I support the project.”
The Nassau IDA determines the school district portion of the PILOT as it sets a total amount of PILOT, of which the village receives 11-12 percent – $9,137 the first year – with the school district receiving about 70 percent. These percentages are set by law.
The village on its own negotiated with the developer for additional annual payments since the village controls the land use for an additional $268,864 in the first year.
Village attorney John Spellman said that there were three options for determining the revenue: take the initial PILOT, negotiate a host community benefit agreement, or take all the money from the PILOT and host community benefit agreement and combine it before dividing it up equally among the taxing jurisdictions.
“The problem with that is for the Mineola community, Mineola residents, the borders of the school district are larger than the borders of the village,” Spellman said. “And so a certain percentage of the population of the taxpayer base exists outside of the village.”
After doing calculations on the third option, “it wouldn’t come out well for Mineola,” Spellman said, “because at most conservatively, Mineola composes 75 percent of the tax base of the school district and as a result, for every dollar put back in only 75 cents would come out and my calculations basically show that over $50,000 a year would be used by Mineola residents to subsidize non-Mineola residents.”
If the formula of combining all the moneys and distributing the tax moneys in proportion to the taxing districts were used, over the life of the PILOT it would total about $1 million dollars.
“So we’ve done the best we can with the charge that we have to promote the best interests of this village and its residents by negotiating the agreement we have,” Spellman said.