October 8, 2009 | 1793 views
What's up with the downtown project?
Town officials looking at three proposals for Grand Ave. project, Kohl’s included
After last year's economic downturn sidetracked plans to revitalize downtown Baldwin, Town of Hempstead officials were forced back to the drawing board to find other interested developers for the massive urban renewal plan slated for Grand Avenue and Merrick Road, which includes a proposal to construct a Kohl's that is widely
But after the town released a second request for proposals, or RFP, as an insurance policy in case Kohl's dropped out, the town received two additional proposals — one for a "Smart Growth" project, which includes a mix of residential housing and retail stores, and the other for a CVS.
Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony Santino, who has been at the forefront of project planning for over five years, said the housing includes "nice apartments geared toward young people." But he wasn't so supportive of the CVS idea, saying that there are too many drug stores in the area already.
"We've had to rethink the project," he said.
Santino explained that the recession, which began in late 2008, threw town officials a few "speed bumps" regarding the downtown project.
Officials had signed a contract last September with private developers Basser Kaufmann and the Engel Burman Group, who agreed to pair up to bring a mixture of well-known retail and restaurant establishments to Grand Avenue between Baldwin Fire Department Headquarters and Merrick Road, and west on Merrick Road to St. Christopher's Church. But that deal fell through after the recession forced many retailers to stop opening new stores, including those who were close to signing contracts with the developers on the Baldwin project.
But despite the setback and the dire state of the economy, officials say they are not giving up on the project. Said Santino, “The original developer found that there was no credit, and all the interest from the larger retailers dried up ... but we are not just sitting around.”