New Housing Runs the Price Gamut

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December 7, 2001 IN THE MIDST of an economic slowdown and post-Sept. 11 anxiety, there is still a strong demand for new homes in a wide price range, as evidenced by the plans for developments in both Queens and on Long Island.

On Monday, for example, New York City officials announced a $350-million development of Arverne-by-the-Sea, a 100-acre oceanfront community in the Rockaways. It includes 2,300 middle-income residential units, mostly, two-family homes with estimated prices between $275,000 and $375,000, but also single-family homes for $500,000 or more and apartments in the $900- a-month range.

The project, a joint undertaking of Benjamin Development Co. of Garden City and The Beechwood Organization, based in Jericho, is much more than a residential complex, with a community center; a charter school for up to 800 students; commercial and retail space, with senior apartments above it; and six mini-parks.

“We’ve created a downtown area – it’s really a smart-growth plan,” said Beechwood partner Michael Dubb, referring to the concept of mixing residential and commercial development with open space. The project, which is to begin construction in June, was designed by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn – the same Manhattan architectural firm that designed Battery Park City. With all these other facets, the key is still the two-family homes, Dubb said.

“The two-family home is the backbone of affordable housing in the five boroughs,” he said. “We knew that 9/11 would not affect the two-family home market, because when people move from their apartment to a two-family home, they actually pay less.”

Officials say the project is distinctive not only for building desperately needed housing, but providing the ocean at the a front door. “There is a beautiful existing boardwalk,” Dubb said. “This is the same beach that is at Jones Beach and the Hamptons.” Luxury Apts. for Glen Cove Meanwhile, in Glen Cove an Alexandria, Va.-based developer is moving forward on plans to bring a luxury apartment community to the city’s downtown.

AvalonBay Communities closed this week on 3.5 acres of land on Pratt Boulevard, where it will build a 256-unit luxury mid-rise apartment community. It also entered into an option agreement with the Glen Cove Community Development Agency to purchase another 1.3 acres for a 111-unit apartment building as part of a second phase of development.

The project includes a mix of large studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with prices ranging from $1,400 for a large studio to $3,800 for a two-bedroom. These prices also include a host of amenities, says Jay Addison, AvalonBay Development Director, including enclosed parking, a swimming pool, health spa and business center. Construction on the $50-million first phase, Avalon at Glen Cove, will start next year, with completion scheduled for late 2003. Phase II will begin at the end of 2003 and be completed in early 2005.

The company has entered into a 25-year lease with the Glen Cove Industrial Development Agency to receive financial benefits, including sales tax exemption on construction materials and fixtures and a predetermined payment in lieu of taxes based on the city’s recently reassessed property values, says Addison. The payment will increase with tax rate increases. Like the Arverne project on the opposite shore, Avalon at Glen Cove is “a good example of smart growth in our downtown business district,” said Mayor-Elect MaryAnn Holzkamp.

She added that “residents will be able to shop, dine or see a movie in the downtown without having to take a car,” noting that the development will attract young professional residents who work in New York City and can easily access the Long Island Rail Road at one of three area stations. Considered the pioneer of high-end rental developments on Long Island, AvalonBay’s other properties include luxury garden-style apartments in Melville, Smithtown and Long Beach.

It has also secured zoning approvals to build 450 luxury garden-style apartments in Coram that will be surrounded by an 18-hole golf course. The project still needs site plan approval. – Jamie Herzlich Real Estate Editor Ronald E. Roel welcomes your comments and questions. He may be contacted by e-mail at roel@newsday.com.

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