The prospect of new apartments in Valley Stream has been hotly debated among residents for years, and with two complexes already occupied and a third ready for new tenants, their combined impact is starting to be felt.
Village Trustee Vincent Grasso said that as businesses along Rockaway Avenue see an increase in revenue because of foot traffic from the apartments, that wealth is shared across the community. “As businesses prosper, that helps them on the tax base,” Grasso said. “As one improves, others improve as well, which lowers the tax burden for the rest of the community.”
Grasso said that adding “full life-cycle housing,” creates affordable places for young professionals as well as older people who want to downsize. Realizing the financial benefits of new housing was projected to be a slow process, he added, but everything is on schedule.
The first complex to be completed, the 90-unit Hawthorne Apartments, at 125 S. Cottage St., has been fully occupied for about a year and a half. According to Ed Rotter, principal owner of Zeus Capital Management — the real estate investment company funding the apartments — the building’s residents consist mostly of professionals in their 30s and 40s, only 10 percent of them are over age 65, and the average household income is more than $100,000. He added that 60 percent of the tenants moved to Valley Stream from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan or other parts of Long Island.
According to Alma Realty Corp., Sun Valley Towers, at 12 Brooklyn Ave., is about 75 percent occupied, and most tenants relocated from the surrounding area.
Construction is complete at the Brooke Pointe Apartments, at 100 Gibson Blvd., and developers said residents would start moving into its 39 units later this month. “We’re still working on getting the final sign-offs for occupancy, and we’re hoping that will take place by the end of the month,” said Peter Florey, principal owner of D&F Development Group LLC.
Florey said that people of all ages have shown interest in the apartments, but given their proximity to the Gibson train station, he expected many commuters to move in. Tom McAleer, the village buildings superintendent, said he was scheduled to meet with Florey on Nov. 2 to go over a final checklist before tenants could move in.
A fourth apartment complex, The Promenade, on Central Avenue, is in the early stages of construction.
In addition to fostering foot traffic in the area, officials anticipate that the new apartments will add to Valley Stream’s tax base. According to Village Treasurer Mike Fox, in the 2012-13 tax year, the village collected $17,673 in property taxes from businesses that were replaced by the Sun Valley Towers. During the three years of the apartments’ construction, the village received two payments of $32,000 and one payment of $33,000. For the 2015-16 tax year, the taxes shot up to about $66,000 after the property was fully assessed.
An increase in revenue is also expected to come from the Brooke Pointe apartments, which had only been 25 to 50 percent assessed as of June 1. According to an agreement with the Town of Hempstead Industrial Development Agency, the complex won’t be fully assessed until the 2017-18 village tax year. The most recent tax payments totaled approximately $11,000.
As for the Hawthorne Apartments, which are also under a Town of Hempstead IDA agreement until the 2027-28 tax year, the village most recently collected roughly $43,446, similar to tax payments on the property for the past two years. The payments will increase by 5 percent in 2019.
Residents have previously criticized the new apartments — notably Sun Valley Towers — for their urbanized look, and an influx of new residents has forced schools to prepare for the possibility of new students. There are now 24 students attending public school in Valley Stream who live in the new apartments. The most pressed for space is Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School in District 24.
Last year, Melville-based H2M Architects valued the costs of addressing District 24’s space needs at $18.5 million, but Superintendent Ed Fale said that the district has no plans to put a bond vote to the community in light of local tax increases because of the Green Acres Mall tax exemption granted by the Town of Hempstead IDA.
“We are close to capacity at Brooklyn Avenue,” Fale wrote in an email. “We would need to re-zone within the district. But we [won’t] be adding space.” Fale said that eight district students currently live in the Hawthorne Apartments, and four live in the Sun Valley Towers.
According to Clifford Odell, the high schools’ assistant superintendent of personnel and administration, eight students from the district live in the Hawthorne apartments, and four live in Sun Valley. Twelve students from Valley Stream South High School live in the complexes.
In addition to the construction of new high-density housing near the village’s commercial areas, a new law is expected to be passed in the coming weeks to implement building façade and streetscape improvements to reverse years of aesthetic decay on Rockaway Avenue and along other thoroughfares.
Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare said the new apartments are part of the village’s master plan to build luxury buildings to spur economic growth. He said that more foot traffic will create a need for higher-quality stores and restaurants, and also bring in more residents to ease the school and village tax burden.
“Our master plan calls for streetscapes and beautification to our downtown areas,” Fare said. “As new locations open up, they will comply with the guidelines approved in the village’s master plan study. As more foot traffic appears, more stores will open, and more of our master plan guidelines will fall into place.”
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