A five-story affordable housing project planned for along the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead has received $5.49 million in grants from New York State.
“This is huge; I can’t underscore that enough,” explained Marianne Garvin, the president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island, which is teaming up on the West Main Street project with a Rochester-based, for-profit developer called Conifer Realty. “Without the financing, you can have a concept and a dream and an aspiration, but you don’t have the project being built.
“This gives us the financing and the ability to actually build what we’re dreaming about building.”
The project is being called Peconic Crossing. The building would contain 48 affordable rental units. And, in order to win a lease, proposed tenants would have to meet income guidelines based on the area median income for Suffolk County, which as of December was $73,600, according to past reports.
Peconic Crossing would give preference to prospective tenants who are artists and can document that, Ms. Garvin has said.
The project would also have a common area for arts and a balcony overlooking the Peconic River that could be used for art events.
Ms. Garvin said almost $5.5 million in state money will also help tremendously in the quest to find private investors to help make up the rest of the money the $17 million project is projected to cost.
“The state doesn’t give this funding out unless they’re feeling confident it’s going to be a great project,” she said. “So it’s a boost of confidence from a lot of people who scrutinize such proposals very closely.”
The $5.4 million award was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday and is a piece of $141 million in awards for affordable housing developments across the state, money that comes in the form of low-interest loans, grants and tax credits, according to a press release.
“Providing greater access to safe and affordable housing is a top priority of our administration and with this investment, we are helping more New Yorkers find a place to call home,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “This is not only an investment in affordable housing projects, but a critical step towards developing safer communities, stronger local economies and brighter futures for all New Yorkers.”
Peconic Crossing’s state funding in particular comes from the tax credit program and the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, said Paul Fink, a CDC spokesman.
Calling the grants as extremely competitive, Ms. Garvin said the Peconic Crossing application must have had all the elements the state is looking for to invest.
“One, it supports the housing strategies that the regional economic development council put together, which is that it’s important to revitalize and support downtowns, to focus more higher density housing in developments like this in downtown areas or near train station,” she said. “So this is near a train station and it’s in a downtown.
“And the connection to artist housing,” she continued. “This also helps support efforts to make the area a tourist destination. What Riverhead is doing, and with the East End Arts Council, is making Riverhead a destination, a place that people would want to go to. With the performing arts center, the riverfront, the river walk, this adds to that and the state recognized that strategy.”
According to the governor’s press announcement, the project is designed to be storm and flood resilient and would also give preference to people who were displaced from Superstorm Sandy.
The project still needs town Planning Board approvals and is planned for property that currently houses the Long Island Science Center.