Dogwood Terrace housing complex relocation, renovation plans stalled


Residents of Dogwood Terrace, an affordable senior housing complex in Franklin Square, have been living in limbo for the past year, since the Town of Hempstead approved a reconstruction of the property.

The project was not awarded tax credits from the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal in March because the application did not demonstrate that the displacement, relocation and acquisition plan would be in accordance with the federal Uniform Relocation Act. Specifically, the application did not include a General Information Notice, as required by the act.

It could potentially be reconsidered again later this summer, as part of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program’s request-for-proposal solicitation process.

The relocation process is also subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is still under review.

In a letter to residents sent on April 17, the town Housing Authority said that the state had “expressed strong support for the project.”

The proposed redevelopment would involve the demolition of seven residential buildings, the renovation of the community building on the 3-acre property and the construction of a new three- and four-story L-shaped residential building with an undisclosed number of one-bedroom apartments.

There would be two elevators, three stairwells and four laundry rooms, one on each floor. The building would be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Its construction is anticipated to take two years.

According to town Housing Authority officials, the rent for current residents would not change during the relocation, and all moving costs and related expenses would be covered by project developer Georgica Green Ventures. Current residents would be given priority to move into the new building before any new residents.

The property, at 1178 Martha Place, behind a Stop & Shop, is one that residents aren’t looking forward to being displaced from during renovations. Several have raised concerns about the relocation process, and have asked the town to provide more information about the properties for temporary living they will able to choose from.

John Heaphy, a member of the complex’s residents’ advisory board, said that residents had to fill out a questionnaire that listed the town’s senior centers, and list their top three choices. Residents, Heaphy said, weren’t given ample time to make their decisions: The sheet was given out one day and collected the next.

He would like residents to get help from the town to potentially visit the centers, or see their apartment layout options, so they can make educated decisions about where they want to stay during the construction.

“We need to get answers from them,” Heaphy said.

Christine Sarner, a Dogwood Terrace resident since 2020, expressed concerns about her neighbors, some of whom have been there for more than 15 years.

“They’re really in a state of delusion — they’re really bothered,” Sarner said. “I think (the town) really needs to have some heart-to-heart talks with them and give some answers to really calm them.”

Karyn Sullivan was attracted to Dogwood Terrace’s location 17 years ago, when she moved in. She and other residents have been anxious about the relocation process, and would like to see a more proactive approach.

“It is premature to start the relocation without first securing all of our approvals and financing,” Housing Authority officials said in the letter to residents. “We must emphasize that the relocation plan will comply with applicable law, and both NYS and HUD will have reviewed and approved our plan. Until this happens, we cannot offer specifics.”

According to town officials, the relocation process will begin after tax credits are approved by both the state and HUD.

“We remain committed to building a community that everyone involved can be proud of, and we reiterate that everything is done with the best interests of the residents in mind,” Edward Cumming, the Housing Authority’s executive director, said in a statement.

Heaphy said that some residents have already begun to leave the property, fed up with the uncertainty of the impending renovation and relocation process. Since they have chosen to permanently relocate, they won’t be on the list of those welcomed back to the complex once it is completed.

“They don’t help you move now if you go on your own,” Heaphy said.

Residents have also expressed concerns about other issues at the property, including extermination practices and public safety. Three months ago, Heaphy said, the town switched its pest control procedure from what he called a proactive plan to a reactive plan. He, Sarner and Sullivan are upset about the new approach, having seen more cockroaches at the complex since the switch.

“Switching the extermination process to preventative integrated pest management was a practical change to save money and reduce the amount of chemicals being released in the building,” Cumming said in another statement. “Preventative integrated pest management is a more commonly used pest control method and is utilized by schools and government building throughout the country.”

Public safety is a major concern for residents as well. In December, Sullivan said, she was robbed of her purse and groceries while returning from Stop & Shop one night. She didn’t report the incident because she felt embarrassed, but would like to see an improvement in security at the property.

“I don’t understand how no one could see anything,” she said of the incident.

Sarner said she doesn’t feel secure at the complex without the protection of public safety enforcement or security cameras.

“Our problem is really (about) how we’re treated,” she said. “Whatever the building is made (and) afterwards — so be it. But for me personally, I have to know where I’m going, when I’m going and how I’m going. And I’d like to be safe here."