Written by Carisa Giardino Monday, 01 June 2009 17:07
A developer hopes to knock down the former KeySpan building at 250 Old Country Road to make way for a nine-story, 257-unit condominium complex in Mineola that some nearby Garden City residents, particularly those living in the Cherry Valley apartments, fear will infringe upon their quality of life.
The existing office building, owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), stands five stories tall. The MTA purchased it as part of the Intermodal Center project but agreed to put the building back on the market. A developer, 250 Old Country Road LLC, has agreed to purchase it.
The proposed complex would be located in Mineola. But because it would sit within 300 feet of the Village of Garden City, building plans must go before Garden City’s Planning Commission.
Mineola Mayor Jack Martins said that by right of zoning, the developer could build an office building, but a residential development would be more beneficial to his village.
Although the proposed building would be at a greater height and greater length (the proposed project totals 345,867 square feet) than the current office building, attorney Kevin Walsh, the applicant’s counsel, agreed that the proposed project would benefit Mineola in numerous ways.
Specifically, Walsh said, the proposed condominium complex would bring in more residents to the downtown area, boosting local business, create pedestrian traffic and bring in tax revenue to the village and school district.
Mineola’s residential tax base would see a projected increase of $477,000 derived from property taxes from the condominium complex. Moreover, the Mineola School District would see an additional $1,925,000 in tax revenue.
Several Garden City residents who attended the May 20 hearing expressed concern over the potential impact the complex would have to Cherry Valley apartment dwellers and those residents living in nearby single-family homes.
Garden City First Deputy Mayor Donald Brudie, who attended the Mineola hearing along with Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh, Central Property Owners’ Association (CPOA) President Pat DiMattia, and the secretary and president of the Cherry Valley apartment complex, asked Mayor Martins if he would meet with Cherry Valley residents to discuss some of their concerns, like increased traffic in the area.
Mayor Martins obliged; as of press time, a meeting was still being scheduled with the Cherry Valley board of directors.
“We are scheduling a meeting. What will come out of it I don’t know,” Brudie said.
Brudie believes that ever since Garden City complained about the proposed Winston condo complex, to be located on the north side of Old Country Road between Willis Avenue and Main Street in Mineola, “we’re kind of persona non grata with the residents of Mineola. They feel we should keep our noses in Garden City and they’ll keep their noses in Mineola.”
Brudie continued, “The board treated us very kindly, very professionally. It’s the residents who don’t understand the situation that we’re within 300 feet of this development and we have a right to be there.”
Cherry Valley residents criticized the height of the complex, 88 feet, and expressed concern over what this complex, along with the proposed Winston, another nine-story, 285-unit condominium complex, would do to the area.
“It’s turning more into a city,” one Cherry Valley apartment complex resident said at the hearing.
Trustee Episcopia noted that the proposed building’s FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is just over 6, twice as dense as the most dense building in Nassau County. “Maybe they’ll be more considerate because it really is across the street from a residential development whereas the Winston has no residential units right across the street,” Episcopia said.
Tom Trypuck, a member of the board of directors of the Cherry Valley apartments, said that several construction projects in recent years have given Cherry Valley residents grief. He hinted that the residents should be given some sort of compensation, referring to an amenities package that has to be negotiated between the developer and the Village of Mineola.
Since the Village of Mineola Board of Trustees would be allowing an exception to the code in order to approve the condominium complex, the village is entitled to public amenities provided by the developer that would go toward improving Mineola.
Some Mineola residents took exception to the negative comments. “We don’t owe you a dime,” Mineola resident Ed Savarese said at the hearing.
Dennis Walsh, also of Mineola, pointed out that there have been construction projects along Franklin Avenue. “If Garden City can have their tax relief, Mineola is entitled to our tax relief,” he said. “This is a very good project for the Village of Mineola.”
Deputy Mayor Brudie said some Mineola residents were dismayed about the Saks building renovations. “They claimed they were not consulted on some of the changes.”
The Saks property, which underwent mostly architectural changes with a minor square footage addition, is more than 300 feet from Mineola so the village did not need to be notified.
Garden City Building Superintendent Mike Filippon added, “They as a village did not have to be notified. There was of course a referral to the Nassau County Planning Commission because Franklin Avenue is a county road. But to compare the alterations done to Saks to the creation of a nine-story edifice? I don’t know how anyone could make that comparison.”
Mayor Rob Rothschild, who personally spoke with Mayor Martins, said he was amenable to discussing the project with Garden City’s village board.
“I don’t like hearing that people don’t think Garden City is a good neighbor,” Mayor Rothschild said. “Hopefully we can mend some fences and get something out of it. This building is probably going to be built. But can we do something to lessen the effect on village residents?”
More hearings on the proposed condominium complex are scheduled, with the next one most likely taking place this month.
-Joe Rizza contributed to this article.