July 15, 2013 by DENISE M. BONILLA / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Babylon Town board Tuesday will vote on a relocation plan that would give $20,000 to households in a North Amityville mobile home park that a developer wants to bulldoze to make way for apartment buildings.
R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview is looking to build 500 apartments with retail space over five phases on the 20-acre site of Frontier Park. The park has more than 300 homes. Owners said they paid tens of thousands of dollars for their homes and about $600 per month to live in the park. Residents said most in the park are young families starting out, people with disabilities or seniors living on fixed incomes. The town has said that if the park is not developed it will be condemned by the county for health and safety reasons.
The relocation plan offers each household $20,000, to be paid out monthly by R Squared over a maximum of 36 months. The payments are to begin two weeks after the resident has left. Some of the money could be paid out earlier for expenses related to obtaining new housing, such as a house down payment and moving costs. The Glen Cove law firm of former Democratic Nassau Legis. David Mejias will handle any grievances regarding the distribution of the money.
A relocation plan was approved by the town board last July but finalized by the town only recently.
"We think it takes into account a lot of the different scenarios that the people would experience during the multiple phases," town attorney Joe Wilson said.
If approved Tuesday, the relocation plan will go before the board of the Long Island Housing Partnership, which will administer the plan and provide housing assistance.
R Squared partner Mitchell Rechler said in a statement that the company is offering "an unprecedented relocation package, especially since these residents do not own the property. We hope it will make their transition easier."
Residents will not receive the plan for at least several weeks. They were given notice of the redevelopment in 2011, at which time they were offered priority for the new apartments, credit for six months current rent, moving expenses up to $2,000 and three months of storage fees if they moved their mobile homes.
After an outcry from residents who said their homes are too old to move, R Squared offered $20,000 to residents to relocate but talks died after the park's civic association filed three lawsuits to stop the project, all of which remain before Justice Joseph Pastoressa in State Supreme Court. The association's lawyer, William Rapp, of Scarborough in Westchester County, has said he will ask the judge for a stay to stop construction until those cases are decided.
The Babylon Town zoning board has approved variances for the project and the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency has granted a tax abatement expected to save R Squared $12 million. The developer still needs approval from the town planning board.
The town board will vote on entering into a partnership with the LIHP for the relocation plan during a meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Originally published: July 1, 2013 7:10 PM
Updated: July 1, 2013 9:39 PM
By DENISE M. BONILLA / email@example.com
Alexis Gadsden stands on the lawn of her North Amityville home, overlooking the 50-year-old mobile home park directly across the street. Gadsden and other residents are worried about a planned development that will replace the mobile home park with 500 new apartments. (April 10, 2012)
A developer who seeks to replace a North Amityville mobile home park with apartments has been granted tax abatements from the Babylon Town Industrial Development Agency and is moving ahead, despite lawsuits aimed at stopping the project.
The IDA has given R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview a 10-year deal starting with an 85 percent abatement that decreases 8.5 percentage points per year. IDA head Robert Stricoff said tax revenue for the park is $680,000 and this amount is guaranteed for each year. The estimated savings for the developer is $12 million.
R Squared -- the sister company of Rechler Equity Partners, both of which are managed by cousins Gregg and Mitchell Rechler -- wants to build 500 apartments with retail space on the 20-acre site. The park has more than 300 mobile homes, and many of the residents -- who own their homes but pay about $600 in rent to stay on the property -- say the homes are too old to move. And many people in the park are seniors or disabled, residents said. Town officials have said the park will be condemned for health and safety violations if it is not brought up to code or redeveloped.
Stricoff said R Squared is investing $120 million into the project. "Developments that increase the assessed value [are] a positive for the entire town," Stricoff said.
Site work is slated to begin later this year and major construction on the first phase of development early next year, Stricoff said. In a statement, Gregg Rechler said the project will "spur economic development and provide much-needed housing options."
The project is to be carried out in five phases, with Phase I calling for the removal of 64 homes in the park's northwestern area closest to Route 110.
The park's civic association has filed three lawsuits to stop the project, all of which remain before Justice Joseph Pastoressa in State Supreme Court. The association's lawyer, William Rapp, said he will ask the judge for a stay to stop construction until those cases are decided.
Last July the town board approved a relocation plan for the park's residents, but a finalized plan has not been completed, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said. He said it will likely be presented at the next town board meeting on July 16. The plan will be administered by the Long Island Housing Partnership and paid for by the developer, he said.
Linda Kavun, a resident in the Phase I area of the park, said she feels "completely in the dark," unaware of the IDA deal or that the developer is moving ahead. Kavun, 61, and her husband Ed, 68, a retired veteran, have lived in the park for 15 years, investing more than $10,000 into their mobile home, she said. Living off Social Security and disability payments, Kavun said the couple will not be able to afford to live in the new apartments.
"We had no intention of going anywhere and we have no money to go anywhere," she said.