Mill Creek Development Approved

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The proposed 192-unit apartment complex for Searing Avenue
The proposed 192-unit apartment complex for Searing Avenue

Mill Creek Residential Trust now holds two crucial transit-oriented development hotspots after the Mineola Village Board approved its 192-unit Searing Avenue apartment complex yesterday. The apartment building will rise on vacant Corpus Christi Church property.

“I’m delighted at the outcome,” Corpus Christi Monsignor Robert Batule said after the approval. “We’ll be able to pay the debt we have, be able to plan for the future. We’ll have money in the bank and be able to continue the services we already provide. It gives us more confidence on what we can do in the future.”

Church officials in November revealed the parish owed $400,000 to the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The sale of the property erased that debt and church officials said they plan to use the funds to boost programs. Waning membership and rising costs could’ve proven deadly to Corpus Christi.

“This has been an education,” Batule said. “I’m grateful to have been able to participate in it.”

The developer will demolish part of the school and construct two, four-story buildings on the north and south side of Searing Avenue. Both buildings will hold 96 units, with the north structure featuring a rooftop lounge, courtyard and club room.

“The beneficiary of all of this is the parish of Corpus Christi,” Batule said. “To bring this to a conclusion is gratifying.”

The south building will have an outdoor pool, fitness center and similar amenities to the north dwellings. The original plan called for 197-units.

“We proposed 96 units on the north and south now because it will [fit the space] better,” said Mill Creek legal counsel rep Chris Coschignano of Sahn Ward Coschignano.

Mill Creek now has two developments in Mineola and four complexes throughout Nassau County, with others in the Village of Hempstead and West Hempstead. The Searing Avenue dwellings now join Mill Creek’s 275-unit Modera Mineola on Old Country Road and its sister component, a 36-senior housing unit, Hudson House.

“The village has been tremendous to work with,” Mill Creek Vice President Jamie Stover said. “They worked expediently. I think the fact that we had a unanimous vote speaks to their confidence in the project.”

The school closed in 2010 due to enrollment decline. The building has since been used for religious education. Corpus Christi will retain the gymnasium after the sale for parish meetings and educational programs, among other uses.

“I’m not sure of the situation of the church, but things cost money,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “If electric goes up, maintenance goes up, you have to pay. If costs go up and donations go down, there’s going to be a problem. I’m hoping this works out for them.”

Apartment hearings in Mineola have been contentious and raucous concerning overpopulation in schools, traffic, tax breaks and suburban quality of life. While Strauss feels the lack of opposition to the Mill Creek plan indicates acceptance of local developments, he admits the approval of 773 units between the 266-unit Village Green, 315-unit One Third Avenue building and now the Searing Avenue property over the last three years has given the village reason to reassess future projects.

“We’ll see what future developers have planned, but we’re looking to take a slight breather,” Strauss said. “We’ll decide what we want to do.”

Mill Creek plans to seek tax breaks from the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, reps said. Mill Creek’s Modera Mineola currently owes $68,621.38 in lieu of taxes due in 2016, with $120,328 due in 2034. PILOTs for Modera’s 36-unit senior housing component in 2015 and 2034 were $12,471.76 and $21,869.30, respectively.

Mineola resident Madeline Maffettore took issue with the apartment onslaught, specifically what it would mean for the Long Island Rail Road’s restart of the plan to add a third track to the Long Island Rail Road’s Floral Park/Hicksville line that runs through Mineola.

“With the excessive building and the more people looking for more room, the Long Island Rail Road wants to put a third [track],” she said. “What is the village going to do about the [rail road] gate being down most of the day on Second Street?”

Mineola reps recently huddled with federal, state and local public officials to discuss the plan, including State Senator Jack Martins, Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello and Cuomo aides. Congresswoman Kathleen Rice also met with local leaders on Friday, Jan. 15 to discuss the LIRR plan.

“[The LIRR’s] idea, from what I can gather is they want to put a third track to help reverse commuting,” Strauss said. “I don’t think it will.”

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