As the public comment period gets extended for the proposed
development, Southern Land Company wants to make its plans known
At the Town of North Hempstead Sept. 1 town board meeting, a date was set for a special meeting on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. for a public hearing concerning 145 West Shore Rd. For some time now, residents have been discussing and debating the plans Southern Land Company (SLC) have proposed for 145 West Shore Rd.
“This meeting is going to be very well attended,” said Councilmember Mariann Dalimonte. “Several residents have requested to keep the public comment period open as long as possible. And after many discussions with the commissioner of planning, the public comment period must extend for at least 30 days from the date of circulation [of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement], which was on Aug. 2. I recommend we extend the deadline to Oct. 31, which will be 90 days.”
As the public hearing period begins, Southern Land Company is laying out its plans in a detailed manner for residents to make informed decisions and opinions.
SLC builds high-end luxury family housing all around the country, most of which have an affordable component, such as workforce housing. The proposed building for West Shore Road will have an option for residents to qualify for affordable housing.
“Our company is modeled after Walt Disney, and their focus is super high quality and imagination,” said Joe Rossi, Director of Acquisitions for the Northeast. “We are a very high-quality company; we manage our own projects; we run events for our residents, and we have our own imaginers. We have over 50 in-house engineers, architects, landscape designers, and horticulturists. We never build two projects the same.”
SLC has been communicating with community groups in Port Washington for five years. The Port community is strong and involved, especially regarding this project.
“We hear what they have to say and have made adjustments to the plan, architecture and community benefits,” said Rossi. “We understand what the impact this site can create and we did our best to compensate for that.”
Aside from the apartment building with 176 luxury units, SLC’s project involves environmental cleanups, community access to a new marina and a promenade connecting North Hempstead Beach Park.
The site at 145 West Shore Rd. has been a masonry contractor in Port Washington for years. Materials have been shipped in and out from that location on Port’s coast. SLC plans to clean up that waterfront area by removing two sunken barges, a sunken tugboat, some truck tires and various other materials in the water on the coast.
“Because of the grade change from the street to the water, all runoff over the years goes down off the street through the site and into the water when it rains,” said Rossi. “All the sediment under the water is pretty contaminated. And to build the marina we have planned, we have to dredge. So we will pull out a lot of the contaminated soils and piles.”
With SLC’s cleanup, they plan to reinforce the bulkhead, where the harbor meets the land, so the infrastructure down the property line will be better preserved.
In addition to cleaning up the site, a marina and promenade open to the public are in SLC’s plans for the West Shore Road site. The marina is estimated to have 20-30 boat slips, and the promenade that runs along the waterfront will be about 700 ft. in length.
The designers working on West Shore Road designed the waterfront area with the plans for North Hempstead Beach park in mind to keep the appearance cohesive. With that in mind, the sewage system will be built to accommodate the whole site and the restaurant in the Beach Park renovation plans if the town should build it.
“I’d love if [the Town of North Hempstead] builds this restaurant then people from across the Island can bring their boat here, dock, go have a drink, eat and spend time in Port with their family,” said Rossi.
The pier will also have an educational component, including an area discussing bird and sea life and the site’s history.
“A long time ago, this site used to be a sand distribution site,” said Rossi. “Most of the sand under the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center came from here. Port Washington is very prideful of their community so we will put a timeline down over here with names and plaques explaining the contributions involving this site.”
Benefits and Impacts
Residents have raised questions about the environmental, economic, traffic and school impacts SLC’s project would have on the Port Washington community. SLC has sat down with local water districts, environmentalists and community groups in addition to having traffic and school impact studies done to answer Port’s questions.
In addition to removing the sunken barges, tugboat, and steel cribbing from the water and shoreline, SLC has planned improvements to help conserve energy. The plans for the project include solar systems on the roof to provide electric needs for common areas and parking garages, installing insulation barriers to control heat loss and gain, utilizing high-efficiency gas heating, water heating and cooktops and more.
The West Shore Road project team has met with local water districts to understand how the water systems work in a peninsula. The team plans to use a stormwater recapture irrigation system that holds an estimated 10,000 gallons.
On the shore of the site, birds enjoy perching on the uneven wood posts protruding from the water and a fish hatchery has formed beneath that area. After meeting with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the team plans on building a section over that area so as not to disturb the fish hatchery. The plans also include leveling the wooden posts for aesthetic purposes but leaving them for the birds to sunbathe.
“After we clean it up, we expect wildlife to come back,” said Rossi. “More fish around the pier, and people can come fish here and enjoy it.”
With a 176-unit apartment building and a pier open to the public, traffic concerns many Port and North Hempstead residents who live in the area and/or frequent North Hempstead Beach Park.
SLC had traffic studies done that included West Shore Road, Beacon Hill Road, Main Street in Port Washington and in Roslyn, Longview Road, Port Washington Boulevard, South Bayles Avenue and ten intersections. The result of the GPS data studies determined the proposed project would generate a minimal amount of peak traffic.
To help combat any traffic the proposed development would bring, SLC will provide a shuttle bus for their residents.
“We’ll have a shuttle bus that will run back and forth to the train and the restaurants,” said Rossi. “And not only is it going to be for our residents but also for the HarborView community, which is our closest single-family home community, over 500 single-family homes. Which helps with traffic big time.”
When any large project is discussed, the economic impacts often worry residents and lead them to question whether it is worth it for their town to partake in it. SCL is estimating $2 million in permits and fees to the Town of North Hempstead, expenses such as building permits and utility fees. SLC has detailed the anticipated tax revenue impact on the Town of North Hempstead.
“If the property stays the way it is over the next 20 years, the current tax revenue only produces $1.6-1.7 million,” said Rossi. “If we are able to build what we’re proposing, our tax revenue to the Town of North Hempstead and to the county would be over $28 million.”
Of the estimated $28 million in taxes to the Town of North Hempstead, $13 million of that goes to the school district.
SLC prides itself on its dedication to quality and education. The developers did a few studies with the school through Rutgers and Stony Brook University, and the studies determined that the development could possibly produce 14 students.
To accommodate those students, SLC plans to pay $26,000 per student for the first five years and for anyone that enrolls in the school from their address, explained Rossi.
“Another thing we plan to do is to give [the school] a million dollar payment only to be used for tablets and smart boards, for the improvement of the way kids learn,” said Rossi.
While opinions on SLC’s plans for 145 West Shore Road are drastically divided, support for the proposed project is evident. During the pandemic, SLC hosted webinars for people to come to listen to their plans and provide input, where they saw many people getting excited about the idea of this project.
Craig Johnson with Long Point Advisors has been in Port Washington since 1976. Johnson served as a Nassau County Legislator and a New York State Senator. Johnson is excited to see what can come from SLC’s development and how it can contribute to the community.
“What’s exciting is a company like Southern Land Company is coming in and willing to put money behind a project, help become a steward of the community, clean up this area and doing it in a way that’s being sensitive to the community,” said Johnson.
In a letter to the town from former Town of North Hempstead Councilman Angelo Ferrara, he expressed his support for the project and understanding of the various benefits the project could bring.
“As a resident of the Town of North Hempstead for more than 40 years. I know how truly special our town is, and I know change can be daunting,” wrote Ferrara. “However, when changes are made thoughtfully and have widespread positive impacts, we must be open to them.”
Long Island Builders Institute Chief Executive Officer Mitchell H. Pally wrote to the town to support the project’s environmental remediation, repurposing the land and economic benefits.
“Now is the time for the Town of North Hempstead to be a leader in redevelopment on Long Island and this project will be the way to go,” wrote Pally.
Southern Land Company is hoping residents will take advantage of the Town of North Hempstead public comment meetings to express questions and concerns that SLC can address.
Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. will be the first public hearing concerning 145 West Shore Road. According to Councilmember Dalimonte’s weekly newsletter, resident comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the record until the public comment period is closed on Oct. 31.