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Village Board Unhappy With MP Rental Possibilities

Next public hearing scheduled for June 20

The former Keyspan building at 250 Old Country Road has been in the hands of developers to create a residential building, dating back to 2009. Originally, Mineola Properties LLC (MP) wanted to build condominiums on the site. Recently, they had a change of heart.

MP came before the Mineola Village Board on Wednesday, May 23, to change its current configuration of its proposed 345-unit complex from condominiums to rentals. MP legal council Kevin Walsh cited the market dip in condos as a reason for the change.

An additional hearing is scheduled for June 20.

One key sticking point during MP’s application process was a state mandate to set aside at least 10 percent of the units for affordable housing. According to village officials, the issue was whether to incorporate a state requirement for affordable housing set aside either on-site or off-site.

With the comparable Winston Manor project, that shifted from condos to rentals before the mandate was certified by the state. Polimeni International LLC, which was also in a subdivision jurisdiction tussle with Garden City, changed the configuration to rentals, citing market values showcased a better revenue source than condos.

“We believe that the proposal we made [in 2009] embraced the plan of revitalizing the downtown area,” Walsh said. “No one knows better [than Mineola] that we need to get people walking around downtown.”

The village has defined affordable housing as 80 percent of mean area income. There is also discussion about next generation and preferential choice for first responders in the project.

The building is located on the north side of Old Country Road, directly across from the Nassau County Legislature and Executive Building. Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss feels the project is far from approval.

“I’m fully supportive of the village’s master plan and its implementation,” Strauss said. “That being said, I don’t have an anything goes attitude. I will concede there are good plans out there, but they might not be good for Mineola. I feel the building is too high and in my opinion, it starts to create a little Manhattan. While I don’t favor a no-build option…a no-build is preferable to a bad build. What I’ve seen here tonight will not work.”

On July 15, 2009, the board of trustees at the time said the building did not have enough on-site parking, resulting in spillover into local parking.  Last week, Walsh cited major architectural and occupancy changes to the project, indicating the building would hold 686 residents, an increase of 198 from its previous proposal in 2009 for a “townhouse-like” development.

The building would stand an extra 10 feet into the Mineola sky. The complex would hold 345 units, a 68-unit increase.

“I agree we’re all anxious to see it move forward, Trustee Paul Pereira said. “This can’t just be ‘go to Mineola. Height? Don’t worry about it. Density? Don’t worry about it.’ You went from 257 units to 345 units. I want this to all fit nicely, but I also don’t want this to become the haven for rentals and 100-foot buildings only.”

The village would have received $2.5 million in amenities if the application is approved, according to Walsh. The developers need to pay for the improvements to the streetscape.

“We have gotten rid of the three-bedroom units,” Walsh said.

Project architects decided to reorient the building, having it face and siphon traffic onto 3rd Avenue, rather than Old Country Road, according to lead architect Stephen Jacobs. The additional units that would be required under a rental configuration, would call for 1.5 parking spaces per unit.

“The folks for next generation housing are in one area of the building and will be integrated randomly throughout the process and will have access to all the amenites that everyone has,” Walsh said. “We ask only that [the board] keeps an open mind on project.”

Jacobs indicated that the building would also incorporate solar panels.

“The prior design had traffic flowing toward Old Country Road,” Jacobs said. “To put it on 3rd Avenue helps the flow.”

Trustee Larry Werther wanted developer Kevin Lalezarian to indicate on the record that he would not sell development rights to the property, much like Polimeni did with the Winston. Lalezarian obliged.

“If you’re looking for us to provide a guarantee that we will not sell an unbuilt project, I would say yes,” he stated.