The Columbia Terrace veterans affordable housing project, which has been promised for close to eight years, might be finally coming to fruition.
Town of Huntington officials, members of the Huntington Community Development Agency (CDA) and members of the local Veterans of Foreign War Post 1469 joined Bayport-based Lipsky Construction Oct. 30 to celebrate the start of the project’s construction.
“Huntington Station has been waiting decades for neighborhood and economic revitalization, which over the past several years is beginning to mobilize,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “Our veterans and their families make many sacrifices to keep them safe, and we owe them the opportunity and ability for owning a home they can live in.”
“Our veterans and their families make many sacrifices to keep them safe, and we owe them the opportunity and ability for owning a home they can live in.”
— Chad Lupinacci
The new development features 14 apartments at the corner of Lowndes Avenue and Railroad Street in Huntington Station. It consist of six, one-bedroom units and eight, two-bedroom condo-style apartments, according to CDA Director Leah Jefferson.
The project was put out to bid again in June with a budget of approximately $3.5 million, Jefferson said. Lipsky Construction was the lowest bidder and a contract signed in September. The project is expected to be completed within 300 days, and have all units sold and occupied by Sept. 30, 2019.
“When I heard it about veterans, I took extra steps to make sure we got on the project,” said Barry Lipsky, the president of Lipsky Construction.“It’s a matter of how much to give back.”
The costs of the units will be offered at 80 percent of the Nassau-Suffolk median income, according to town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo. The one-bedroom apartments starting at $200,000.
The veterans housing project was first proposed back in 2010, according to Lupinacci. That same year, the CDA was awarded $1.56 million grant from the New York’s Empire State Economic Development Fund Program. An additional $2 million dollars were borrowed by the town from the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund And Agency Fund for the sake of the project, which will be paid back upon the sale of the apartments. Interim funding has been secured by Huntington’s elected officials through People’s United Bank in the form of a construction loan.
““What I found out over the years, veterans don’t ask for a lot. They’re not banging on doors saying ‘gimme, gimme, gimme.”
— Rick Seryneck
Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), former director of the town’s CDA, said one of challenges has been rising costs compared to the amount of grant funding available.
The town has also secured $250,000 in funds from the county to go toward road realignment, curbing and street lighting, which Lupinacci said would be installed after construction is finished.
The supervisor said a lottery will be held to fill the apartments closer to the project’s completion.
Rick Serynek, a member of the Huntington Veterans Advisory Board, said he knows veterans who could make use of affordable housing. He said many of those who have served are not the type to ask for help, even if they need it.
“What I found out over the years, veterans don’t ask for a lot. They’re not banging on doors saying ‘gimme, gimme, gimme,” Serynek said. “All they want is a fair shake.”