Overhaul of affordable Dogwood Terrace senior apartments given go-ahead

Town of Hempstead approves 4-story plan


The Dogwood Terrace modernization project has received a green light from the Town of Hempstead.

Earlier this month, town officials decided that the 104-unit Dogwood Terrace senior housing complex, at 1178 Martha Place, would receive a much-needed upgrade.

The Town of Hempstead Housing Authority proposal calls for the expansion of the low-cost housing development from two to four stories, while retaining the 104 units to accommodate town residents who are 55 and older.

The existing two-story complex sits on a dead end on Martha Place, behind the Stop & Shop on Franklin Avenue.

“The town board and I are excited to move forward with the new facility at Dogwood Terrace,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said. “I look forward to getting shovels in the ground and delivering an impressive, modernized building for its senior residents.”

Under the plan, the complex’s studio apartments would be converted into one-bedroom units, with each apartment being enlarged by 100 to nearly 700 square feet. To avoid flooding from the small creek nearby, the entire building would be raised, town officials said.

In addition, elevators would be installed to improve accessibility, and parking on the property would be doubled from roughly 50 to 88 spots. The site’s senior recreation center — which touts activities such as shuffleboard, physical fitness classes and holiday-themed parties — would also undergo renovations, town officials said.

Last month, members of the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals held a public hearing to discuss a height variance for the project. The Housing Authority requested permission to exceed two stories, as well as a variance for off-street parking.

The Board of Appeals granted the variances with several conditions, including that the builder install a living fence no less than 15 feet along the perimeter of the property bordering any neighboring residential land and implement LED lights throughout the site, without having them shine into neighbors’ yards.

While some of the seniors living in the complex welcome the improvements, other neighboring homeowners are concerned this project may lead to an influx of development in Franklin Square and open the door to more four-story buildings.

“To watch them tear down the buildings I watched them build — I think it’s terrible what they’re doing,” said Dick Peter-sen, a longtime resident of Emma Place in Franklin Square, who lives close to the apartment complex. “We’re not going to change their mind, we’ll just have to live with it.”

The current Dogwood Terrace apartments were built in the early 1970s. Petersen said he hosted the first meeting at his home with members of the Housing Authority and other residents to discuss the original project. They agreed on a two-story complex that would fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

Roughly 40 years later, Petersen said the Housing Authority is not living up to this promise with the new proposal.

Frank Culmone, a Franklin Square resident, and several others in the neighborhood received letters notifying them of the Board of Appeals’ decision. Culmone said he wishes the project received more community input.

“This happened very quickly — we want our seniors to live in great conditions, of course,” Culmone said. “I think (the town) needed to have a community meeting, come up with ideas, instead they just run ahead and do this.”

As a real estate broker for more than 32 years and a longtime Franklin Square resident, Lisa DelliPizzi said there are many homeowners in the area who have expressed their frustration with the town’s decision.

“This is not the place for a four-story (building),” DelliPizzi said. “People are extremely disappointed and they will not forget this.”