Village Green Hearing Grows Contentious

An artist rending of the Village Green
An artist rending of the Village Green

Kevin Lalezarian is looking to plant his second flag in Mineola after proposing a 296-unit apartment complex last week at a Mineola Village Board public hearing. The New Hyde Park-based residential developer has one piece already taking shape.

The $80-100 million proposed building, dubbed the Village Green, would stand six to nine stories, and house retail and restaurant space at 199 Second St. in Mineola. The Village Green would consist of 132 one-bedroom and 164 two-bedroom units. The dwelling is in line to replace the Citibank at the site, which would move to Third Avenue. The planned horseshoe-shaped building would also house a village courtyard.

“Give [the Citibank move] approximately six months to have an overlap between the two locations so they can transition their customers,” he said. “At that point, we would start to build.” If approved, Lalezarian said he would not move forward with construction until its current project is complete and Citibank relocates.

His rising 315-unit rental dwelling at 250 Old Country Rd. is on schedule and is one of three ongoing residential projects in Mineola.

“We’re not going to do something stupid,” said Lalezarian. “Before we complete [250 Old Country Rd.], we’ll start pre-leasing apartments. If we see we’re wrong and it’s not renting, we’re not going to start another project.”

Lalezarian said he’d need “real live market data” showing a demand, to proceed with the proposed project.

“We won’t start this project based on a study,” he stated. “We need real data.”

Trustee Paul Cusato was against the height of the complex, which could reach 99 feet towards the Long Island Rail Road station.

“I support the Village Green, but not at this scale,” he said. “If you want to be consistent with the area, I suggest you reduce your structure by three floors so the site line is in conformity.”

The village board recently hired a consultant to examine the ongoing apartment plans in Mineola, specifically population estimates.

“We’re going to look to see how it affects the village at any level,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “We want to see the impact.”

Traffic Concerns
A walkway would connect the courtyard to Main Street, which Lalezarian’s legal counsel rep Kevin Walsh feels would encourage pedestrian traffic. While business could increase, Robert Fox, owner of Fox’s Department Store on Main Street, feels his current customers may suffer. Lalezarian indicated sidewalks and select parking spaces near Main Street would be inaccessible during construction.

“This will have significant economic impact on our business,” he said. “Our customers [come from everywhere]. They drive into the village. Parking is tight. It will be a death for us to lose the [current] parking lots.”

Kevin Lalezarian and Kevin Walsh
Kevin Lalezarian and Kevin Walsh

VHB traffic expert Patrick Lenihan suggested the footprint of the site needs a slight makeover. He said a right turn lane is needed on the westbound side of Second Street and that Front Street, at the rear of the site, should become into a two-way street going east. It’s currently a one-way, westbound lane.

Lenihan conducted three differenttraffic studies near the site and argued transit oriented development’s purpose is to generate less traffic. However, the study did not analyze west of Mineola Boulevard.

“We chose what was likely to be impacted,” Lenihan said.

Strauss suggested more is needed.

“There’s a problem for us as far as going along Station Plaza North to Third Avenue west, which runs along the hospital,” Strauss said. “Station Plaza is extremely congested at times.”

Mineola resident Lou Santosus, a former village board member, felt traffic and parking would come to a halt with the proposed plan, coupled with the current Lalezarian development as well as the recently opened 36-unit Hudson House and growing 275-unit Mineola Modera on Old
Country Road.

“You have to look at this as piling on to other projects,” Santosus said. “All of these projects will put 700 cars on the street. The traffic is atrocious as it is.”

Tax Relief Issues
Leading up to last week’s hearing, a contentious dialogue erupted between the village and Mineola school boards concerning possible tax breaks (payments in lieu of taxes) for the Village Green if Lalezarians seeks relief from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. Mineola School Board officials argued they weren’t consulted in cementing long-term tax relief, while influxes of school-aged children could create class size issue and budget planning problems.

“It has been said that we are receiving roughly $25 million over 20 years from these projects in PILOT payments,” School Board President Artie Barnett said. “What it fails to do is explain how PILOT payments are calculated in our tax cap. When we calculate the cap, we multiply the Tax Base Growth Factor. A PILOT building does not count towards that.”

According to VHB Senior Technical Advisor Ginny Watral, nine school children would be generated from this project if approved. Previous reports totaled 52 kids.

Artie Barnett
Artie Barnett

Barnett is against residential PILOTs.

“No matter what financing we get from [the Village Green], it does not increase our revenue,” he said.

Mayor Strauss said, “you still get the money right?”

“We do not have a growth factor,” Barnett said. “We’ll receive students with no increase in revenue.”

School District Superintendent Michael Nagler worries Mineola schools would need expansions if class size increased. He suggested Lalezarian help pay for school building additions if their projects are wrong.

“Maybe a suggestion perhaps…put money in an escrow account,” he said. “If we get more children then they predict, they build the addition. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to flip that. I believe [Lalezarian] is well-intentioned. But what if it’s 60 kids? Then we’re foced to react.”

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