Residents of Dogwood Terrace — an affordable senior housing complex at 1178 Martha Place in Franklin Square — continued to express concerns about being forced to relocate while the complex undergoes renovations.
Many of their questions about being displaced remain unanswered, they said.
David Gallo, president of the development company, Georgica Green Ventures, addressed residents of the complex at a meeting on Nov. 10 at the Dogwood Terrace apartment complex. Gallo told them that applications have been sent to both the state’s division of Housing and Community Renewal and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and are pending approval. The town’s housing authority and the developer have also submitted a building permit to the Town of Hempstead for review.
The status of the application to the state for tax credits on the project can be expected back sometime in March, Gallo said. If tax credits were awarded, breaking ground on construction would take place sometime after that.
“What we’ll likely do is wait until early next year,” Gallo said. “Hopefully we’ll hear about the award of tax credits, and if we do, we will set up the meetings so that we can do the relocation.”
Once the project is given the go-ahead, each resident of the complex will be set up with a relocation specialist to work one-on-one through the process, according to Miriam Milgrom, outside council for the town’s housing authority for the Dogwood Terrace project.
“Until we have commitment with the financing, there’s no reason for us to start that process right now,” Gallo said of relocation discussions.
Construction could take 16 to 24 months, Gallo said. The revamp would expand the housing development from two to four stories, while retaining the current 104 units. People who live at the facility could choose to move to another senior center of their choice or choose to live with a family member during the construction period. Housing authority officials said that tenants would not be responsible for moving expenses and labor.
Accessibility improvements would include elevators, making the complex fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Residents said they remained concerned with the lack of communication from the town and Georgica Green Ventures about the logistics of the project — particularly when they can expect to relocate and if there will be any additional costs associated with the redeveloped apartment complex.
Many Dogwood Terrace residents, such as Karyn Sullivan, said they have felt out of the loop throughout the process.
“I feel like the rug has been taken out from under my feet,” Sullivan said.
As a member of Dogwood Terrace’s residents’ advisory board, John Heaphy raised concerns about the lack of communication from the town and the developer since the plans to modernize the complex were announced in January. Heaphy wondered if residents who are asked to relocate during construction would be guaranteed to return to the complex upon the project’s completion.
“We need answers,” Heaphy said. “We have to go to sleep every night thinking about this — when we’re going to be put out.”
Gallo said a list of names of the residents who lived in the complex as of December 2022 has been provided to the state and federal governments to keep track of who will be welcomed back once the project moves forward.
Heaphy, who has lived in the complex for the past four years, said he has seen building conditions deteriorate over time.
“We are in bad shape here, right now,” he said. “These buildings are falling apart. You all go home at night. We have to go back in here.”
Patrick Wallach’s mother-in-law has lived in the Dogwood Terrace apartment complex since 2015. The process has been hard on her so far, and Wallach said that his family still does not know how to plan for her relocation.
“I think if you want to decrease the worry, you should increase the communication,” Wallach said.
Gallo said Georgica Green Ventures and the town’s housing authority are committed to this project. The developer has worked with housing authorities in other towns to complete projects, such as The Green at Garvies Point in Glen Cove.
Ed Cumming, the Town of Hempstead Housing Authority’s executive director, said in a statement to the Herald that the town is excited about the redevelopment of the Dogwood Terrace apartment complex.
“This redevelopment will greatly improve the quality of life enjoyed by residents at the complex, and the housing authority will continue to move forward with the best interests of the residents as a priority,” Cumming said.