Tags Posts tagged with "Conifer Realty"

Conifer Realty

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Conifer’s revised design plans for the Port Jefferson Crossing apartment complex were approved Sept. 17 after multiple design changes over the past several months. Photo from planning board meeting

The Village of Port Jefferson has set a number to what an upcoming apartment complex project is worth for recreational land.

Officials voted to set the recreational parkland fee for Port Jefferson Crossing at $1,500 per unit at 45 units for a total of $67,500. Village officials said they are setting aside the funds specifically for developing Upper Port even further.

Mayor Margot Garant said they would be putting those funds in a special account to be used for revitalizing the up-the-hill portions of the village, which has been a largely blighted area for several years. All trustees agreed those funds should be used to develop uptown. Vice Mayor Stan Loucks suggested it could be for new recreational space in the Highland area of the village.

The project currently has plans for three floors, with the first floor being 3,200 square feet of retail and the next two containing 37 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. The front part of the project will take up 112 lineal feet of frontage on Main Street.

Village Attorney Brian Egan said Conifer, the company behind Port Jefferson Crossing, has sent a letter to the effect of making some kind of donation to the village equivalent to the fee, but as of right now, the money is already in the village’s hands.

Alison LaPointe, special village attorney to the Building and Planning Department, previously told TBR News Media the payment in lieu of parking fee for the C-2 district, where Crossing resides, has been set at $4,000 per space via a 2018 resolution.

Parkland fees are set by the board of trustees on a case-by-case basis. The planning board has to approve the fee.

Conifer representatives have previously told the village planning board they were requesting officials consider renovated sidewalks and other amenities in place of the parkland fee. Officials have previously granted another The Shipyard, an apartment complex in downtown Port Jeff, a reduced parkland fee because of patio space and other open amenities included in the complex, though it was later confirmed the space was inaccessible to the public. The village changed its code in September of last year to excise rooftop decks, patios and other common areas not accessible to the general public from being considered for reduced or eliminated parkland fee.

Village Trustee Bruce Miller, who opposed The Shipyard’s reduced fee in 2018, said he hoped the village wasn’t going down the same road again. Garant agreed, saying “that’s why we’re here.”

Port Jefferson Crossing has already received an agreement with the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency for an estimated $5.2 million mortgage tax exemption for help in demolishing the current building and a $66,236 Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement starting in 2023-24. They join many of the other new apartment developments that have received PILOT agreements, including The Brookport and the Overbay Apartments developments. 

IDA documents also show they anticipate 1.5 employees will be needed at the new site, though that doesn’t include what businesses may take up space on the first floor facing the street.

Garant also said at the Nov. 16 meeting she was meeting with representatives of the Long Island Rail Road about, among other things, potentially making the parking lot metered. This would allow a revitalized upper port to be used during times in the evening much less trafficked by commuters for people to visit any businesses.

In addition, the village has to work with the LIRR on designing Station Street, which will be located just south of Conifer’s project. 

Another apartment development by the Gitto Group is looking to start up at the corner of Main Street and North Country Road, where the PJ Lobster House currently stands.

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Conifer’s revised design plans for the Port Jefferson Crossing apartment complex were approved Sept. 17 after multiple design changes over the past several months. Photo from planning board meeting

Port Jeff’s latest apartment complex has the green light to proceed.

The Port Jefferson planning board unanimously agreed to conditionally approve site plans for Port Jefferson Crossing, a new apartment complex developed by regional affordable housing developer Conifer Realty just north of the Port Jeff railroad station along Main Street.

Jen Sigler, PJ village site plan reviewer, showed off the new renderings in the planning board’s Sept. 17 meeting, where designs have changed somewhat from their original June, July and August presentations. Gone are the red facades on the easternmost portion of the planned building, and overall the color is more continuous. The structure will have one type of external brick and windowed element on the first floor facing Main Street, and a second structure that is connected internally strikes out into the sidewalk slightly with so-called “bump outs.” The bottom brick portion on the eastern-most structure has changed to a grey color as well.

Some planning board members still felt lukewarm about some facade changes. Planning board member Laura Zimmerman was especially miffed, saying that the developer’s incremental changes have not done enough to change the overall cold and barren look of the building toward the southeast corner.

“This is a building that’s going to be there for 50 years, or however long it’s going to last,” Zimmerman said.

Kenneth Garvin, an architect for the developer, suggested they could add more character to the southeast tower on the wraparound. 

Current plans cite the three-story complex will have 45 units in total, 37 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. The complex will also offer over 3,100 square feet of retail space. There are plans for a covered parking garage of 48 stalls for residents, a community room, laundry facilities and a gym. 

The board has also asked that the developer give the planning board greater detail and a better price-by-price point for specific costs on the project, though they did approve the developer’s bond amount at the estimated $1,177,947. The board will need to amend the application approval at a later date figure if additional budgetary details are later considered.

The developer had originally asked for a waiver on a payment in lieu of parking and a parkland fee, but the planning board has kicked the decision over to the board of trustees who will make that determination.

Alison LaPointe, the special village attorney for the Building and Planning Department, said the normal PILOP fee is set at $4,000 per space in the C-2 district thanks to a village resolution in 2018, though the parkland fee is set on a case-by-case basis. 

“It is common procedure for the planning board to request a proposed fee amount from the applicant and then upon review the planning board either asks for adjustments to the amount or approves,” she clarified in an email.

Once the number is approved the owner then has to secure bond documents, which are then reviewed by the village attorney, where upon approval the bond documents are executed.

Mayor Margot Garant confirmed in the village board’s Sept. 21 meeting that the board and developer would need to discuss a recreation fee in short order, which depends on the number of apartments and scope of the overall project.

The village still has to work with PSEG on the location of a utility box and utility lines. Port Jefferson has worked with the developer in establishing the creation of Station Street, which is planned to be a one-way road that provides entry to the adjacent parking lots just north of the train station parking lot and just before the initial footprint for the proposed development. 

LaPointe said the costs for Station Street are being shared between the village and developer. The Villages portion of Station street is funded with Restore NY grant funds at a 50-50 match. Certain contributions such as curbing from the applicant are to be partially financed by a state grant received in 2016.

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The concept drawings for the Port Jefferson Crossing development include the sight of Station Street, a one-way road which will be built by the Village of Port Jefferson to connect the eastern side of the project. Image from design plans

Conifer Realty had its first public hearing in front of the Port Jefferson Village planning board July 9. Amongst a few comments about safety and general aesthetics, Conifer representatives also revealed they were requesting that the planning board, and later the board of trustees, consider a renovated sidewalk and other amenities in place of village parkland fees.

The project, called Port Jefferson Crossing, would be located directly adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road train station and would take over the property of a now-decrepit cafe.

Kathleen Deegan Dickson, of Uniondale-based law firm Forchelli Deegan Terrana, said the developer was requesting such reduced parkland fees because of its plans to renovate the sidewalk on the southern side of the project which borders a still-to-be constructed road called Station Street. The developer plans to add trees, benches and other plantings near the intersection with Main Street, then gift that stretch of sidewalk with added amenities to the village.

“It was certainly our hope that the planning board would give some consideration to either a reduced or eliminated parkland fee in light of the fact we are improving and dedicating land back to the village,” Dickson said. “While we’re not going to pretend it’s a park it will have some features that will add a nice community benefit to the areas.”

Alison LaPointe, special village attorney for building and planning, said the determination of parkland fee is a two-step process, first with the planning board determining if there is parkland fee that needs to be assessed based on availability of parkland in the vicinity of the project, accounting for the number of new residents coming in with the planned apartments. If the planning board finds a parkland fee is necessary, the matter gets transferred to the board of trustees to determine a reasonable fee for that need. The planning board doesn’t have the availability to assess specifics of the fee, though it can account for what is already available, which may include the Texaco park just a little over a block away from the proposed site.

“The planning board has the ability to assess whether or not additional parkland facilities are deemed necessary in the vicinity,” LaPointe said.

The village has usually used the Town of Brookhaven’s formula for assessing price on parkland fee, namely a multiplier formula that requires 1,500 square feet of public green space per unit in a housing development or $1,000 fine per unit if that space can’t be provided.

The issue of parkland fees has come up in the village before, namely with The Shipyard apartments developed by Tritec on West Broadway. Original parkland fees for that development were reduced due to Tritec then saying they were providing amenities on their rooftop and in a plaza. At the time, in 2018, the village building and planning department ruled it could satisfy the parkland requirement for about 21 of that complex’s 112 units based on square footage.

In 2019, the village changed code to eliminate rooftop decks, patios and other common areas not accessible to the general public from being considered park or recreational facilities for the purposes of developers reducing the parkland fee paid to the village.

Planning board member Barbara Sabatino requested the applicant provide the total value of what Conifer plans to dedicate to the village. 

The project currently has plans for three floors, with the first floor being 3,200 square feet of retail and the next two containing 37 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments. The front part of the project will take up 112 lineal feet of frontage on Main Street, and current designs show two different designs for the two halves of the building, one a “lofty style,” as put by the developer’s architects, and the other a red-brick Georgian style. Some planning board members commented on the general flatness of the exterior, but LaPointe said more of these comments will be ironed out after meetings with the Architectural Review Committee.

Only one resident commented on the proposed plans. Rebecca Kassay, the co-owner of the Fox and Owl Inn in Port Jeff, asked whether Conifer plans to have solar panels on its roof. Joanna Cuevas, senior project director for Conifer Realty, said there are currently no plans for solar panels, but the developer could assess the cost benefit of including those.

Another planning board meeting is set for Aug. 20, and is available for further public comment.