WSJ Article: Mega-Development Gets Under Way on Long Island

By Joseph De Avila, The Wall Street Journal

As this Long Island city prepares to break ground Tuesday on one of the region’s biggest real-estate projects, it faces opposition even as some residents have warmed to such large-scale developments.

The project known as Garvies Point will include 1,100 apartments and condominiums along with parkland and waterfront access. It will be built on a Superfund site where a factory produced munitions decades ago. A cleanup that began in the 1990s is nearly done.

Garvies Point is a sign that some Long Islanders, who have had a distaste for multifamily housing, have begun to change their views, said Lawrence Levy, executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t have had a conversation with most folks on Long Island about building anything dense or high rise,” Mr. Levy said.

But not everyone supports these changes, Mr. Levy said. “It’s often a war” to get these projects built, he added.

Mayor Reginald Spinello said the economic benefits for Glen Cove outweigh concerns about increased traffic or changing the area’s character. He said the $1 billion project will bring in more than $800 million in new tax revenue over the next 40 years and add up to 1,800 residents to the city, which has a population of about 27,000.

As part of the deal, the city agreed to issue $125 million in bonds to pay for public-infrastructure upgrades for the project, including park space and a marina. A portion of the property taxes generated from the project will pay back the bonds.

“We have 56 acres of waterfront property on the North Shore of Long Island that has been off the tax roll for 30 years,” Mr. Spinello said. “This is putting it to best use. It’s a benefit to the residents.”

Opponents aren’t so sure. Two lawsuits sought to stop construction. Both were dismissed in August. The plaintiffs in both cases are appealing.

One lawsuit was filed by more than 100 residents in Glen Cove and other surrounding communities. The other was filed by the neighboring village of Sea Cliff. Bruce Kennedy, the former mayor of Sea Cliff, said his village had concerns about environmental impacts and traffic.

Mr. Kennedy said many residents are resigned that development will move forward at Garvies Point. “But they won’t stop till this grossly gigantic development is scaled back,” he said.

Scott Rechler, chief executive of RXR Realty, which is building Garvies Point, said Long Island needed housing and Glen Cove was a good place to address that need.

“We have to think holistically as a region,” Mr. Rechler said. “Having a blighted environmental Superfund site that has really been doing nothing, it can’t be more ideal for something that creates a great community amenity and opens up the waterfront.”

Other communities in Long Island also are pursuing large real-estate developments. The village of Wyandanch in Suffolk County has plans for a 40-acre project in its downtown. Developer Gerald Wolkoff also wants to build a 450-acre development in the hamlet of Brentwood also in Suffolk County.

Published: December 4, 2016

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