Public Hearing Thursday on Downtown Mixed-Use Development

Developer John Kean, left, and owner Alan Fromkin

Developer John Kean, left, and owner Alan Fromkin

Opponents and supporters of a proposal to build an 84-unit apartment building downtown are expected to turn out Thursday for a public hearing on the matter.

Alan Fromkin, who owns 235 Main St., as well as parcels along Main Street, Gerard Street and Stewart Avenue that would be rebuilt, and developer John Kean want to turn the five spots into a mixed-use residential and retail space that would include the downsizing of some of the existing retail.

At issue for many of the opponents are the height of the new building and parking. Fromkin and Kean, who turned up at a meeting of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition last week, say the building would only be a few feet taller than its current  configuration because of town zoning rules that include the ground-floor garage, which is on a slope. Town code allows for three stories.

The entire project covers more than  271,000 square feet. Kean and Fromkin promised to restore and preserve the facade of the historic 1911 Huntington Firehouse.

In going to the Zoning Board of Appeals, the developer is seeking its approval of variances for height and grow-level uses, the parking structure cover and parking setback requirements.

Fromkin said that he currently has variances from the zoning board for 392 parking spaces, while under the new plan, he would need variances for 135.

Opponents, such as the group Save Huntington Village, however, say the project is simply wrong for the downtown.

This development will undoubtedly “alter the essential character of the neighborhood” in numerous ways, through increased traffic, decreased parking availability for existing residents, the destruction of a local landmark, and an increased burden on municipal services such as waste management, sewage, and fire protection.

Considerable demolition and excavation over a period of about 18 months would be required. Mac’s Steakhouse would shrink, though Jos. A Bank at 229 Main St. would be untouched.

Originally identified as a project for luxury apartments, the units would likely rent for less than $2,000 a month  the developer recently said. The plan calls for one studio apartment, 53 one-bedroom apartments, 29 two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit, but has no specific affordable apartment component.

The coalition, which advocates on such issues as affordable housing, took no stand on the project.

Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci issued a statement Wednesday noting that the project began well before he took office in January 2018.

“First, I would like to point out that much of the development that has prompted public discussion during my first year in office was already in the pipeline or approved during the prior administration. 

“While I cannot comment on a specific application before the ZBA, it is a priority of my administration to preserve the historic character and charm of our Town while allowing business to flourish. In 2018, my first year in office, I asked the Town’s Planning Department to review possible changes to C6 zoning and provide recommendations to aid in the preservation of our Town’s quaint aesthetic. The Planning Department is still working on those recommendations.

“I am fully aware of and understand residents’ concerns and it should be noted: the application for the Downtown Huntington project is not being heard by the Town Board. It is solely the jurisdiction of the ZBA to grant or deny variances sought by this applicant.”

The  hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St.

 

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