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Whaleneck Avenue marina in Merrick sells for $14 million

Southern Land Company proposes 140 rental units

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Residents who live across the street from a line of marinas on south Merrick’s Hewlett Peninsula may have a new view on the horizon in the coming years.

Southern Land Company, a Nashville-based developer, has purchased an 8-acre lot at 3000 Whaleneck Drive for roughly $14.1 million. The firm is proposing a three-story rental complex for the property, comprising 140 units across five structures.

“The property traded hands last year and was purchased from a marina operator who wanted to redevelop the site for multi-family housing,” said Joseph Rossi, Southern Land’s Northeast director of acquisitions. “Currently we are the contract vendee, since we have not closed on the property yet, so during this due diligence period, we will be holding a series of public meetings . . . to hear as many people as we can.”

The mixed-use project represents an $80 million investment by Southern Land, according to Senior Vice President Dustin Downey. While not age-restricted, the proposed complex would be geared toward empty-nesters, divorcées, widowers and older adults to provide them a “better option of living.”

“As Long Island continues to age, people need a place to go where they can stay in their own community,” Downey said. “This is the type of housing that is so needed for a place like this.”

Housing and other amenities

Four of the planned buildings contain a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, each with its own single-level parking deck on the first floor. The fifth building is designated for townhouse-style units, which would contain three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

Rossi highlighted some of the apartments’ “condo-quality” features, including 10-foot ceilings, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors. A 900-square-foot one-bedroom is to rent for $3,200 a month; a two-bedroom apartment, $4,700 a month; and the townhomes, more than $6,000 a month.

If the project is completed, renters would have access to the complex’s full-time concierge service, a 1,500-square-foot gym, a golf simulator, pool, a dog park and waterfront promenades. Those who live across the street would also have free, unfettered access to these amenities, and Merrick residents would have the first right of refusal for any of the site’s 120 boat slips.

The main boardwalk would also house a 3,500-square foot restaurant — Southern Land is in contract with SALT to tear down its current facility and give it a state-of-the-art rebuild if the project were approved. The new lease includes commitments on the part of the restaurant to encourage diners to park on site, Downey said.

Site remediation and project impact

Southern Land would also clean up the landward and seaward sides of the property to remediate any contamination produced by the current maintenance shop or marina traffic. Downey estimated that the remediation would cost the firm less than $200,000.

If approved, the project is projected to increase the property tax base by $16 million over the next 20 years, which includes an $8 million school tax increase. Downey said the firm was working with school officials to offset the project’s impact, but said the proposal would add fewer than 12 children to the surrounding districts.

Additionally, Southern Land is projecting to pay $3 million in permits and fees to the Town of Hempstead, and construction is anticipated to employ nearly 400 local workers.

The project’s impact on traffic is “one of our biggest concerns,” Downey said. He added that the firm would work with town officials to find solutions to mitigate traffic. “We want to substantially improve the street immediately in front of us so it’s wider, providing so many more spaces than what’s provided now,” he said.

The proposal is expected to go before the Town Board for approval by next year. Construction would take two years to complete, and renters would be able to move in within 18 months after the start of construction.

Community feedback

Southern Land has already met with affected community stakeholders to brief them on the proposal, Downey said. Earlier this month, members of the South Merrick Community Civic Association and 16 Whaleneck residents were invited to the site to hear the firm’s plans.

SMCCA President Joe Baker was among the attendees. The project “makes me excited since the community really needs [this] shot in the arm, and [Southern Land] can help with any projects that we can’t fulfill,” he said. “I’m encouraged that they’re willing to change [aspects of the project] around . . . if the residents are not happy with [them]. Let’s hope the promises are kept if this does come through.”