An affordable housing project planned for Tuckahoe that was stalled by the Great Recession is back on the table, with revisions to reflect the current state of the housing market.
The new plan calls for 32 rental units, a mix of one-bedrooms and studio apartments, spread among four buildings. The original proposal, which received unanimous Town Board approval as a planned development district in February 2009, called for 16 two-bedrooms condos, in four buildings.
Jon Sirkin, of Vesta Development, based in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, said Monday that he purchased a 2.6-acre lot at 161 Sandy Hollow Rd. about six years ago with affordable housing in mind. “We thought that this was something that the community could really use,” he said.
The project was dubbed Sandy Hollow Cove. “We were prepared to build it, but at the time it got approved the economy changed," Sirkin said.
Now, he said he is working with the Southampton Housing Authority and David Gallo, of the Jericho-based firm Georgica Green Ventures, to get approval on revisions to the planned development district. One-bedrooms and studios are in line with current demands of the market, according to Sirkin, and he said that the units will make less of an impact on Tuckahoe School District enrollment than two-bedrooms would.
“The next step is to see how receptive the Town Board is, and we’ll make the changes that are necessary," Sirkin said.
The lot is located in the R-80 zone, which permits one residence per 80,000 square feet. However, the Town Board-approved planned development district allowed multifamily housing in exchange for a community benefit, i.e. affordable housing.
Gallo said the plan is to make the four buildings appear as though they have always been part of the community, and to that end, Southampton Village architect John David Rose was brought in. “Our goal here is that it's something the community can be proud of,” Gallo said.
The buildings will look like any of the big houses that would typically be seen while driving around Southampton, Sirkin said. The plan calls for 24 one-bedrooms and eight studios, with a sewage treatment plant to serve the units.
“The biggest component of the financing will come from the tax credits that will hopefully be awarded to the project,” Gallo said.
A bank will finance the development just like any other housing project, Gallo said. But, the more tax credits awarded will equal lower rents to service the debt.
“The federal government issues tax credits to every state, and the state disseminates these credits through their allocating agencies, and there’s a few allocating agencies in New York," Gallo said.
The program was created in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan and is “purported to be the most successful public-private partnership in real estate development,” Gallo said. He later added, “The reality is, there really is no other way to do this… there’s no other programs that are offered that will create 32 affordable housing units over the long term.”
By regulatory agreement, the housing will need to stay affordable for at least 50 years, But Gallo said that the Housing Authority is working to make it affordable for perpetuity.
A one-bedroom would cost around $900 monthly, and a studio apartment would be less, according to Gallo.
"We're working to put all the parts together to make it financially viable, low rent, well-maintained and self-sufficient," Southampton Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Blowes said.
A $900 monthly rate is considered affordable for a worker making approximately $30,000 per year, and someone making less could be eligible for aid, Blowes said. “If somebody comes in and they need assistance for some reason, there are assistance programs available to lower their rent if they couldn’t afford to pay."
However, Blowes added that subsidy programs are not meant to be entitlements, which people stay on for the rest of their lives. “Those programs are over,” he said.
Blowes said the Housing Authority has been meeting with groups such as the school district, the North Sea and Southampton-Tuckahoe-Shinnecock Hills citizens advisory committees, local fire departments and hospital officials. Eventually, he said, those organizations will be part of a committee to establish the needs of the community and how they can me met by this affordable housing project.
Blowes said the revisions will be presented to the Town Board later this month.