Long Island Business News
Developers say new multifamily projects are net positive for LI
By DAVID WINZELBERG
While proposed apartment projects often draw the ire of some local residents, developers, real estate industry organizations and planning groups are touting the actual after effects of new multifamily projects on the Long Island communities where they’re built.
The Real Estate Institute at Stony Brook University College of Business held a webinar last week featuring three development execs discussing the positive impacts of their multifamily projects here.
Titled “Changes to a Community After Development of a Market Rate Multifamily Property,” the webinar discussed multifamily developments from Mill Creek Residential in Hempstead, Mineola and West Hempstead; Tritec projects in Patchogue, Lindenhurst, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma; and Albanese Organization’s Wyandanch Village.
Tritec’s New Village in Patchogue, which brought 291 new rental apartments above 15,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, became a catalyst for the area’s renaissance and famously attracted new retailers and restaurants to the downtown district, now one of the most successful on Long Island. A study released at the end of 2018 by the Long Island Regional Planning Council touted Patchogue’s revitalization and found that New Village and a couple of other multifamily developments added feet on the street, helped create thousands of jobs and accounted for $693.3 million in economic growth.
Despite fears from some local residents, Rob Kent, vice president and partner at Tritec, said the New Village development exceeded expectations.
“Some people thought their single-family homes were going to go down in value, but instead, homes have gone up in value,” Kent said. “I think Patchogue even suspended its village tax because it got so much money coming in.”
Tritec is hoping to duplicate that success in another South Shore community seeking a rebound. The company is nearing completion of The Wel, a $102.6 million transit-oriented apartment complex across from the Lindenhurst Long Island Rail Road station.
“We’re seeing that in Lindenhurst, you started to see some of the storefronts going empty,” Kent said. “Village officials actually came to us for help and we should be delivering 260 units there in June.”
Another transformative multifamily and mixed-use development has been the Albanese Organization’s Wyandanch Village.
“Wyandanch had the distinction of being one of the most underserved communities on Long Island,” said Russell Albanese, the company’s chairman. “It was a great opportunity to join with the town and the community to help revitalize the area and at the time, the main goals were economic development, job
and career creation and the creation of affordable and workforce housing.”
Albanese broke ground on its first Wyandanch building in 2013. It has since completed two more buildings, bringing a total of about 300 apartments, with another hundred under construction and 250 more in design.
“It’s been a very positive influence on the community,” Albanese said. “Our first commercial tenant was New York Community bank which was the first new bank in Wyandanch in decades. This past February, Chase Bank just opened up a new branch in the development as well, so there’s been many signs of positive impact throughout.”
Russell Tepper, senior managing director of development for Mill Creek Residential, acknowledged that a supportive and understanding local government is a critical component in delivering successful multifamily projects on Long Island. Mill Creek experienced that cooperation in developing about 800 rental apartments in Hempstead, West Hempstead and Mineola over the last nine years.
“The vision that we are collectively trying to create for the community, they understand what density means and that it’s not a bad word,” Tepper said. “They understand the minimal negative impacts, if any, that we create when we develop properties. They understand all the job creation, and the tax rate doubles and the minimal school-aged children that communities we developed create.”
Among the litany of complaints from those opposing multifamily projects here are increased traffic, concerns about altering the “character” of the neighborhood (a.k.a “It’s going to look like Queens”) and the burden of
more children on local schools.
However, a report released this month by the Long Island Regional Planning Council found that multifamily developments are not a driving factor in increasing enrollment and they actually represent a “net positive financial benefit” to the school districts where
The study of seven multifamily developments in six school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties revealed that tax revenue exceeded the per pupil cost of any added enrollment from the new apartments, with net positive impacts ranging from about $55,000 to $737,000, and a median positive impact of about $322,000.
Conducted over a 10-year period, the study found that only two school districts experienced an increase in student population of more than 5 percent and that school-aged children residing in multifamily housing constituted less than 20 percent of new students in those districts that showed increased enrollment. Three of the districts studied experienced decreased enrollment since the opening of the multifamily developments studied.
“Concerns about dramatically increasing enrollment and driving up school district budgets are often raised in opposition to much-needed multifamily residential developments across Long Island,” LIRPC Chairman John Cameron said in a commission statement. “While there are a multitude of factors which account for annual increases in school budget expenditures, those increases are not heavily driven by enrollment from multifamily housing development.”