Hempstead Village Adopts Downtown Vision Plan Unexpectedly
A green space near the Hempstead train station would be a focal point of the Downtown Vision plan. The village board of trustees voted 4-1 on Tuesday to adopt this plan and begin searching for a developer after 11 months of inaction.
(Photo from Vision Report, Village of Hempstead Community Development Agency)
After months of inaction, the Hempstead Board of Trustees voted 4-1 Tuesday night to adopt a draft plan for the controversial Downtown Vision development project.
Several residents said they were shocked by the vote and even the placement of the dormant issue on the meeting’s agenda.
“They surprised the community by putting it on the agenda, and no one knew about it,” said Katherine Garry. “Very unexpected.”
The Village of Hempstead devised a plan to revitalize North Main Street near the LIRR train station and the MTA bus terminal. In the fall of 2008, an environmental impact study determined that if the plan could be fully implemented, it would create $7.1 million in revenue for the village, whereas a scaled-down version of the plan would generate $2.4 million.
Mayor Wayne Hall said he is going to start meeting with designers and architects immediately, and put out the development of the village’s project out for bid.
“It is getting ready to get started,” Hall said at the meeting. The Village of Hempstead plan originally called for the board to draft the plan in November 2008 — 11 months before Tuesday’s meeting.
Hall didn’t mention a specific delay during discussion of the proposal at the meeting, but defended his decision not to hold further public meetings despite promises to do so after a large turnout at previous hearings held last year.
“After reconsidering, we heard from everyone that had something to say,” Hall said at the meeting.
Trustee Don Ryan cast the only dissenting vote.
The plan calls for between 2,500 and 3,000 new residential units — a mix of townhouses and condos — that Garry calls “upscale” and would do nothing but force the community out of the downtown area.
The village’s proposal calls for more than 500,000 square feet of retail space, which Garry contends would drive small businesses out.
Hempstead resident Mark Bottoms agreed, and pointed to tax breaks he says businesses would receive to come into the village.
“It’s time for the taxpayers to stop carrying the burden of blighted sites and tax burden, because developers come in and don’t have to pay anything,” Bottoms said in an interview. “The keep selling us out. Where are the benefits for the residents? Why in our backyard?
For complete Village of Hempstead meeting coverage, check our live blog.
What the 2008 Hempstead Village report says:
- Increase revenue and strengthen tax base
- Strengthen the economy while enhancing quality of life
- Promote a mix of uses including housing in the downtown
- Redevelop underutilized buildings and surface lots
- Enhance walkability and pedestrian safety
- Increase / improve / connect public open space & parks
- Focus on accessibility / intermodal center
Recommended action suggested by environment study:
- 120’ height limit within one-quarter mile of the transit center
- 85’ height limit within half-mile of the transit center
- Allow residential land use downtown
- Promote active ground floor retail along Main Street and North Franklin Street with upper level residential uses
- Create an active and functional transit plaza
The Downtown Vision plan would:
- Create spaces for multiple public activities
- Create a “signature” public space at the transit station
- Provide dedicated bicycle paths
- Create pedestrian-friendly routes
- Incorporate sustainable design strategies and maximize transit use