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Apartment complex coming to Harbor Isle in Island Park

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The Town of Hempstead Board heard plans from a developer on Dec. 11 to build a $90 million, 172-unit luxury apartment complex at the site of the former Harbor Isle petroleum facility in Island Park.

The complex would be built by the Arlington, Va.-based AvalonBay Communities and could be constructed after a decade-long controversy about developing the site. The lot was found to have contaminated soil and groundwater from when it was a petroleum facility.

“The site plan is contingent upon the proper remediation of the property, which is being monitored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,” Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said. “As always, the Town Building Department will work diligently to ensure that all codes are followed.”

The Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency approved a preliminary resolution for the 11.6-acre lot on Sept. 18, granting tax-relief measures for AvalonBay Communities’ planned development.

“The purpose of the preliminary inducement is to let them know that the IDA board is interested in this project going forward,” IDA Chief Executive Fred Parola said in September. He added that AvalonBay was not planning on marketing the rentals to families, reducing its impact on the Island Park School District. “They’ll provide us with more” information, Parola said, noting that the apartments would likely be geared toward young couples.

Site plans for the construction were submitted to the Town of Hempstead in July. At the September meeting of the IDA, AvalonBay representatives said the cost to clean up the site would be about $9 million and that it could take six to nine months. Construction of the apartment complex would take another 26 months, they added. According to the town building code, because the development would cover more than an acre of land, plans must be reviewed and approved by all of the town’s departments.

AvalonBay representatives would pay the town an $88,750 deposit for up to five years of maintenance and monitoring of the site. The town would enter into escrow with developers if the town’s Conservation and Waterways Department finds the property does not meet the standards of the state DEC. The site plan calls for three feet of clean soil in addition to air and water monitoring.

Hempstead officials have previously blocked development on the land. In 1999, the Farmingdale-based Posillico Development Company paid $2.4 million at a bankruptcy auction for the land. In 2007, the company partnered with Blue Island Development LLC to develop the lot into a combination of rental apartments and condominiums, but the town denied the inclusion of rentals in 2010 and later decided to allow a maximum of only 10 percent of the building to be rentals.

AvalonBay partnered with Posillico in 2013, but the town once again denied the rentals. Posillico then entered into a legal battle with town officials in State Supreme Court. In 2015, a judge issued a summary judgment in favor of Posillico, and after a 2016 appeal, the Appellate Division ruled that the town’s efforts to stop the development of rental residences was “invalid and unenforceable,” according to previous Herald reporting. In 2017, AvalonBay entered into a contract to purchase the property from Posillico, making it the primary stakeholder in the property’s development.

According to D’Esposito, officials were advised by town attorneys and the Building Department to listen to the development plans. “This development, which is on a property that had previously been a bulk petroleum storage facility, has been before the Town Board multiple times over the last two decades,” he said. “The Town Board had put severe restrictions in place when originally approving the development in 2008 . . . Now, the board is constrained to approve the site plan submitted by AvalonBay Communities since it meets all other legal requirements.”