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Lynbrook residents offer mixed reactions to apartments proposed for feather factory site

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Lynbrook residents recently offered differing views on a 210-unit apartment complex that has been proposed for the site of the vacant Mangrove Feather factory, with a number favoring it, while others expressed concern over its size and the potential traffic that it might cause.

David Orwasher, chief development officer for the Garden City-based Breslin Realty, is seeking to build the complex after years of negotiations with the village and property owner Barry Singer. He hosted two meet-and-greets with the community — one of which was also held virtually — on April 1 and 6.

Before the meetings, Mayor Alan Beach said the board was keeping an open mind about the project, and would schedule a public hearing at a later date, which had not been set at press time.

“We’re very excited, and the board is open to all interesting projects that come to our village,” Beach said earlier this month. “We look forward to the public hearing.”

Though the former factory has long been a blight on the village, many residents said they were concerned about the traffic that an influx of new residents might create, among other issues. Most said they would support a smaller-scale apartment project, or advocated for other ideas, such as using the site to construct senior housing or a brewery.

Charles Bruno cited traffic as the main reason he opposed the proposal. “Personally, I think this will only add to the traffic congestion problems we have here every afternoon and make it seem like it is becoming a place to live like you would find in Queens,” he said. “It’s nice to have the small village feel and have people spread out in their neighborhood homes. Two hundred units sounds like it’s going to be a huge imposing eyesore of a building.”

John Reid shared a similar sentiment. “This is the Village of Lynbrook. What we don’t need is another high-rise rental apartment building,” he said. “At what point do we stop trying to turn Nassau County into a borough of New York City?”

Nikki Luisi offered a different perspective and said she favored the project, citing the proposal’s benefits, adding she was unsure why residents opposed the project.

“I’m confused,” she said. “This helps your community and brings revenue and economic growth. I don’t see why it’s a negative impact. Traffic is traffic. You are in Long Island, which is New York at the end of the day.”

Melissa Curcuru said she has lived in Lynbrook for 31 years, often passes the dilapidated building and would like to see it redeveloped.

“As someone who has lived and walked passed this building since my birth, I would love to see anything done to that site,” she said.

The one-time Mangrove Feather factory has been dormant since 2008, and several village administrations have sought to develop it, but it took many years to persuade Singer to sell the property, which residents and village officials have called an eyesore. Orwasher and Singer began negotiating a deal in November 2017, and finally reached one last month. Orwasher said he thought the site was a perfect spot for housing because of its proximity to the Long Island Rail Road station and the downtown.

“This is a classic transit-oriented development,” he said. “It’s literally across the street from the village train station. It’s also going to replace a derelict building that has been vacant for over a dozen years. This particular location occupies what we believe is a pivotal location within the fabric of the village downtown.”

The Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the project, according to President Cory Hirsch, who spoke in favor of it.

“As a real estate broker, I think there is a tremendous need for these units, and it will be a huge boon to the Lynbrook downtown,” he said. “It’s my belief that this development will bring in mostly young professionals who will, in turn, help revitalize the downtown of Lynbrook that has far too many empty stores.“

The building would also include a parking space for each unit, with the first two stories serving as a garage. The complex would comprise a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Among the amenities would be an outdoor recreation deck, sun deck, chess table and more, Orwasher said. If approved by the village board, construction would take 18 months to two years.

To learn more about the project, visit restore4347broadwaylynbrookstation.com.