After years of planning, the construction of a $130 million luxury condominium project in Port Washington has come one step closer to reality.
The project’s developer, Southern Land Company, recently submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the Town of North Hempstead.
The 176-unit multifamily and mixed-use development would be at 145 West Shore Rd. Other additions for the currently blighted area include a public marina and promenade.
Joe Rossi, Northeast director of acquisitions, said openness with the community has been crucial. He said a significant portion of the planning has been focused on restoring the Hempstead Bay waterfront for the benefit of the public.
“We started out with an entire grassroots campaign,” he said. “We met with every single person who’s willing to hear us and we’re in constant contact with the local council people and with the community at large.”
The DEIS provides a detailed description of the affected environment and a realistic range of alternatives. It analyzes the ramifications of each alternative based on agency knowledge and public concerns.
Southern Land expects the proposed development project to have several additional environmental advantages for the region.
These benefits include an increase in the number of birds and other local species on the site, a reduction in the risk of soil erosion and the need for irrigation to help conserve and protect water.
Despite Southern Land’s claims, there has been opposition from residents.
An online petition against the project has over 3,700 signatures as of presstime. It argues that excessive development is threatening the community’s identity and way of living.
“This change in zoning will set a precedent for two more parcels of land next to this parcel,” reads the petition. “[It] could lead to two or more apartment buildings of a similar size.”
Extra traffic and negative zoning changes are some of the most particular worries. Stress on schools, first responders and other village employees are other areas of concern.
Rossi said these people are nothing more than a loud minority.
“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of older millennials like Dustin [Downey, chief investment officer at Southern Land] and reach out to us and say, ‘Hey, those people don’t represent us and we live in this community,’” he said.
According to Downey, the developers plan to spend between $10 million to $14 million on a thorough cleanup. They want to improve the waterfront’s aesthetics, make it navigable by sea and make it accessible to the community.
“The fundamental impact of this project is so little and it helps so much,” said Downey. “For us, the reason we looked at this project is that — look at this — who wouldn’t want this to be something?”
If built, Southern Land estimates that potential tax receipts will be more than $28 million over the course of 20 years.
They also intend to establish a shuttle service that will boost foot traffic without also drawing more vehicles to Port.
The Town will now review the submitted DEIS and ask the developers to address any issues within it. They will hold public hearings when it has been declared ready for viewing by the public. Then it will ultimately be approved or not.
Rossi said if everything goes according to plan, environmental cleanup will start in early 2023.
“We truly believe in [the project],” said Rossi. “It’s not about the money at this point. It’s all about building something beautiful and watching it come to life.”