Despite vocal community opposition, construction is progressing on a $60 million, 230-unit apartment complex on Rockaway Avenue in Oceanside, and developers have set December 2021 as its completion date.
Richard Donnelly, the property manager, who works for the Manhattan-based Broadwall Management, which also has an office in Levittown, said the project is about 40 to 50 percent complete. He added that work began last winter, and crews are now completing the floors on the building’s third level.
Donnelly said he thought it was a project Oceanside needs, because it offers luxury rental apartments, which he said the area was lacking.
“There are hardly any rentals in Oceanside, period,” he said. “There are very few rentals, and it’s going to be a luxury-oriented building. It’s going to have a community room and a gym, so it’s going to have some amenities.”
Calls to construction manager Bryan Altman, requesting further details, had not been returned at press time on Monday.
Dubbed Woodcrest Village Park, the four-story, 260,000-square-foot rental complex, which will be close to the East Rockaway train station, is intended to attract young professionals who might otherwise move out of Nassau County. It is being built where a 105-unit Woodcrest rental complex once stood, but was demolished after Hurricane Sandy. The project will include 421 parking spaces, more than double the 190 offered at the old complex.
Town of Hempstead officials approved the site plan for the Woodcrest project in May 2019. Before officials OK’d it, the plan was reviewed by engineering, traffic, street lighting, highways and conservation and waterways departments. The development firm backing the project is the Manhattan-based Feil Organization, while H2M architects + engineers, also based in Manhattan, is the architectural firm, and the Melville-based Racanelli Construction is the general contractor.
The project has been met with mixed reviews from residents, and the Ocean-side Civic Group, which organized in 2018 specifically to oppose this project, has been vocal against it since the site plan was approved. The group was started by a few residents, but has grown to about 330 members, and now focuses on many issues facing Oceanside.
Aaron Meyer, the group’s founding member, told the Herald in May 2019 that he was upset the town did not listen to residents’ feedback before approving the project. Reached for comment, he said many people throughout the area oppose the project, and many have expressed their displeasure that it was approved without local input, especially since there may not be a need for transit-oriented development with many people working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“If there is a positive, though, it does appear that builders are not trying to hide their plans or ignore local sentiment,” he said. “Still, we are going to be stuck with a complex nobody wants, purportedly geared toward a commuter population that likely no longer exists.”
Some of the group’s issues include the large increase in the number of units for the new project compared to the old building, as well as the impact that the influx of new residents could have on traffic, parking and the school district.
The group met with several elected officials to share their dismay over the project over the past few years, and also spoke with Nassau County Industrial Development Chairman Richard Kessel to voice local concerns. The county IDA approved a 15-year PILOT sales tax exemption and mortgage-recording tax abatement for the project in September 2018, before the site plan was approved. Under the agreement, Woodcrest Village Park would pay about $114,000 for the first three years, after which the total would increase steadily to $1.9 million during the final year of the deal.
Kessel announced the project alongside County Executive Laura Curran, representatives of Vision Long Island and members of the Feil Organization, which has owned the roughly 5.2-acre Oceanside property since 1979, at a news conference in September 2018.
“This fits right into our vision for economic development right here in Nassau County — transit-oriented development,” Curran said at the event. “It’s rental housing that is accessible to our train stations, and that’s what should be happening right here.”