Garbage is strewn across the lawn, plywood is leaning against the walls and windows are broken at 1 Wallace Court, behind Rosa’s Pizza at the corner of Wallace Court and Payan Avenue in Valley Stream.
Over the past few months, a man broke into the house and stole electronics, and developers from Cedarhurst-based Paramount Construction found dead raccoons inside the house after the development company purchased it. Martine Jean, who often visits her mother at the senior living community on Payan Avenue, said she doesn’t believe anyone has lived at the property for seven years. “Every time I come to see her, I’m like, ‘Is it haunted?’” Jean said.
The village board of trustees voted to change the lot’s zoning on April 11 to allow for commercial development. Since 1999, the property has been zoned for single- and two-family housing, even though surrounding properties were zoned for single-, two-family and commercial property. This prompted Dominick Minerva, attorney for Paramount Construction, to petition the village to change the property’s zoning to allow for commercial parking.
As part of the change, the village board also agreed to allow the property to be zoned for multi-family residential buildings and retail businesses. Paramount Construction wants to build a 28-unit apartment complex. According to its website, the three-story building would be called The Parkside. Construction cannot begin until a final proposal is submitted to the village’s building department and public hearings on the proposal are held.
Since it was the only property in the area designated for single- and two-family houses, the village board approved the change for commercial parking, according to Mayor Ed Fare. “This is a unique property, a one-time anomaly,” he said. “If there had been dozens of similar properties, the board would have to step back and further investigate why so many properties were affected. We researched and found no other similar situations.”
Fare added that the zoning change to allow commercial parking aligns with the village’s master plan to reinvigorate its downtown.
Many residents living in the area, however, do not want another apartment building. The street is surrounded by multi-family residences, with a senior living community on Payan Avenue and a two-story apartment complex on Ballard Avenue.
“It’s nice that the old people have a place to go and it’s nice that there are apartments, but I’m now surrounded by 150,000 people,” said Margarita Verrelli, who lives with her mother across the street from the property. She also expressed concerns about parking. “We who live in the village aren’t allowed to park in front of our house because it’s an incorporated village, but you make 28 units and then it’s overpopulated,” Verrelli said, adding that even if there were an underground parking lot, additional spaces for visitor parking would be needed.
Richard Annitto, a Valley Stream resident who delivers mail to the area, also sees parking as a problem. “If there’s two people per household, that would be a big underground parking garage,” he said, noting that he hopes the village rejects the plan.
Karen Selah, who lives on Payan Avenue, also claimed that an apartment building is not suitable for the area. “I think it belongs in an urban area, not a suburb,” she said. A new apartment building could put more financial pressure on schools, she concluded.
Some neighbors say they would rather see someone buy the house and renovate it. “A beautiful person could live there,” said a woman named Jean — and it would be a good for a family with young children.
Talia Deseide, who lives on Wallace Court, said that she would also like to see the house sold.
Alex Rivero, the president of Paramount Construction, claimed that a new apartment building would benefit the village. “The fact that developers want to come in and develop is a good sign,” he said.
Rivero’s company will start construction on another apartment complex, at 138 N. Central Ave., in the next few months. This building will be smaller than the one proposed for Wallace Court — only six units. Originally, Paramount envisioned nine units, but downsized its plan after the Nassau County Planning Commission suggested that the nine-unit proposal was “an over-intensification of development.”
“It’s going to be a real nice look for the village, and it will increase the tax base , and it will be a great place for people to move to,” Rivero said of the North Central Avenue apartments.