Big money approved for Peconic apartments

06/24/2010 12:00 AM |

An artist rendering of the Summerwind Square affordable apartment complex proposed for downtown. Construction on the project is expected to last between 10 and 12 months.

It was a good few days to be involved in downtown Riverhead’s much-anticipated Summerwind Square project.

On Friday, Vision Long Island presented the proposed workforce housing and retail concept for Peconic Avenue with a “Smart Growth” award, and on Tuesday, the county Legislature approved about $2 million in funding needed to make the project affordable.

Summerwind Square is a proposed four-story mixed-use building slated to be built just a few hundred feet north of the Peconic River in the beleaguered downtown area. It calls for a 100-seat restaurant and 4,800 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 52 apartment units on the top three floors. All of the apartments will accommodate what’s known as “workforce housing,” which means most of the occupants can earn no more than 80 percent of the median income for the county.

Builder Ray Dickhoff, who is a principal in the project, along with Riverhead architect Martin Sendlewski and Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, has said he expects to rent the 20 one-bedroom apartments for about $1,100 per month, the 29 studio apartments for about $900 per month and the three two-bedroom apartments for about $1,500 per month.

The three principals have undertaken the project under the name Eastern Property Investor Consultants LLC.

“The county has been fantastic,” Mr. Dickhoff said. “This wouldn’t be possible without them”

The Legislature’s approval of $1.976 million Tuesday is needed to make the project affordable, although that subsidy is awarded to the entire project, rather than the tenants, and the developer is required to keep the apartments affordable for 30 years under the agreement with the county, officials said.

The county also agreed to pay $313,000 in infrastructure improvements near Summerwind Square.

In addition to the county’s assistance, the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency earlier this year agreed to grant Summerwind Square a 10-year property tax abatement on the value of the improvements on the site. That abatement applies to town, school, county and fire district taxes.

Mr. Sendlewski said the next step for Summerwind is to close on the agreement with the county and then begin demolishing that building. Mr. Sendlewski anticipates construction will take between 10 and 12 months.

Summerwind was actually one of two downtown Riverhead projects that received “range of housing” awards at Friday’s Smart Growth Awards, according to Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit planning and development advocacy group. The other was Concern Riverhead, housed in the former Henry Perkins Home for Adults on West Main Street. The building was renovated two years ago and turned into a 50-unit so-called supportive housing project for people with psychiatric disabilities.

“The Smart Growth Awards recognize visionaries on the cutting edge of land use,” Mr. Alexander said in a written statement, noting that “smart growth favors mixed-use, mixed-income development that is attractive and strategically designed to enhance the greater area” while reducing traffic “by making transit, walking and biking realistic and even pleasant options.”

“Summerwind is a major part of the overall revitalization of downtown Riverhead by providing great apartments in a walkable, active community,” a Vision Long Island press release said of the project Friday. “The building is located in the heart of downtown, so residents can easily walk to nearby restaurants, shopping, educational facilities and cultural activities.”

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