Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 06 November 2013 00:00
Bishop Lionel Harvey, president of the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corp. and senior pastor of First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury, sometimes drives up and down Prospect Avenue at night, marveling at how much it’s changed in the last few years.
“I see the lights, the median, the businesses. It brings tears to my eyes because 13 years ago, it was a totally different situation here,” said Harvey.
Last Tuesday marked one more step forward in the revitalization of New Cassel, with the ribbon cutting of a new 36-unit affordable housing complex on Prospect Avenue.
“Today is a great day in the life of this community. The journey has not been easy, but it’s one that has been forged with tenacity,” Harvey said. “When I look at a project like this, and all the hard work that’s been put into it and see that people will be able to have a great quality of life, to me that’s a beautiful thing.”
Cathedral Place Apartments will house low to moderate-income families who meet special income guidelines. The three story complex consists of 18 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom units. It also features a community space, fitness room, laundry room, on-site parking and management/leasing office.
Rent will be $962 for a one-bedroom, $1,153 for a two-bedroom and $1,327 for a three-bedroom unit. A lottery for residency was held in August.
“Having lived in this community practically my entire life and having served on the North Hempstead Town Board, I know first-hand about the dire need for affordable low to middle income rentals in this community,” said Nassau County
Legislator Robert Troiano. “The addition of these apartments to the rental pool adds another component to New Cassel’s revitalization that has injected so much new energy into the community.”
Nicole Bradley, the mother of a six-year-old son, said she was overjoyed at being one of the lucky ones to land a two-bedroom unit at Cathedral Place. She said she had been moving back and forth between New Cassel, where she stayed
with family, and Syracuse, where she is originally from, for two years. She said she wanted to move to New Cassel because of the diversity, community and many nearby amenities.
“New Cassel felt like home so I decided that I wanted to settle down here. I’m so happy I was fortunate enough to overcome the one big hurdle (of) finding affordable housing,” Bradley said. “I feel safe, I feel at home.”
Many partners collaborated on the project, including Nassau County, The Town of North Hempstead, Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI), the Town of North Hempstead’s Community Development Agency (CDA),
TD Charitable Foundation, NeighborWorks America, Capital One Bank, Community Preservation, Redstone Equity Partners, National Grid, and New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Viviana Russell thanked the residents of New Cassel for being a partner with government to “make sure this community got what it deserved.”
“When I moved to New Cassel 15 years ago, the revitalization was just starting to happen,” she said. “We should have never thought we would be where we are today, opening a facility of this caliber. It’s personal for me, as well as for the residents of this community. It’s a delight to have this in our community.”
The building was built in a year, and residents will begin moving in by the end of the month.
More than just the opening of a new building, the ribbon cutting symbolizes how New Cassel is transforming into a more prosperous, thriving community. In the past two years, the hamlet has seen several new additions, including a grocery store, pharmacy, and the 60,000 square foot “Yes We Can” community center. The Prospect Avenue corridor has also been transformed to be more walkable. The Town’s CDA is also in the process of developing a Request for Proposal to bring a bank to the area.