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Blueprints would mirror design for similar housing in Rocky Point

Mark Baisch discusses his proposal for senior homes in Miller Place at the July 10 Sound Beach Civic Association meeting. Photo by Ginny Drews

Low-cost, community-based apartments for seniors may be heading to Miller Place.

During a July 10 Sound Beach Civic Association meeting, Mark Baisch, owner of the Rocky Point-based development company Landmark Properties Ltd., proposed 44 600-square-feet, one bedroom apartment units be built as a cul-de-sac on the northwest corner of Sylvan Avenue and Echo Avenue.

The plan is for the senior-exclusive apartment complex, temporarily named Echo Run, to be developed on half of the heavily wooded 3.7-acre site, while the other half would remain in its natural state.

According to Baisch’s proposal, all four units in each of the 11 buildings would have a high Energy Star rating with geothermal heating and cooling systems. Rent is expected to be between $1,000 and $1,400 per month.

It’s kind of lifting a weight off their shoulders because now, this whole homeownership responsibility at 75 years old goes away.”

— Mark Baisch

He said the project aims to provide older residents a new, much-needed living option.

“There’s a huge demand for reasonably priced apartments for seniors who have lived here for a significant portion of their life because for them, there is no place to go,” Baisch said of his plan, which targets senior citizens burdened with paying high taxes to live in homes or basement apartments they might not need anymore. “It’s kind of lifting a weight off their shoulders because now, this whole homeownership responsibility at 75 years old goes away and you end up living the rest of your life without that worry.”

He said senior citizens would not have to worry about upkeep and maintenance around their yard and home while in the complex.

“Here’s what would be a bunch of accessory apartments all in an area where everybody’s in the same boat — they can all support one another and that’s the way it really should be,” Baisch said. “The psychological benefit alone probably exceeds the housing benefit.”

Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto, 70, said she’s ready to sign up.

“I can envision myself living there,” Ruberto said. “As baby boomers, we’re getting to the age where we want to live somewhere like that and we have very few rental apartments in the area. More senior rental is definitely needed.”

Ruberto said the proposal was well-received by other civic board members, especially Baisch’s idea to give each building in the complex a different color and design so it better fits the look of the community.

“I can envision myself living there. … More senior rental is definitely needed.”

— Bea Ruberto

The Miller Place proposal mirrors Baisch’s On the Commons apartment complex in development in Rocky Point on the site of the old Thurber Lumber Co. Inc. He said Miller Place and Sound Beach residents requested to be placed on the Rocky Point housing list, prompting him to add a second location.

Like On the Commons, Echo Run plans to reserve a significant percentage of its homes for United States military veterans. The minimum percentage for veterans in Miller Place would be 10 percent, Baisch said, but that number may be adjusted pending an upcoming meeting with Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 6249.

Mary McDonald, 66, who has lived in Miller Place for 32 years, is pleased the proposal is pushing for residential development as opposed to commercial.

“Affordable housing for seniors is something that’s going to be needed all through Suffolk County, because taxes are so high seniors have to leave,” she said. “I’m getting to that point myself.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said she has already received positive feedback from seniors.

“Several residents have reached out to me and are very excited for it,” Bonner said.

Baisch has discussed the estimated two-year plan with the president of the Miller Place Civic Association and members of Brookhaven Town, and will be meeting with the Mount Sinai Civic Association in the near future.

“I know this will be a homerun in Miller Place,” he said, “just like it’s a homerun in Rocky Point.”

Developer Mark Baisch wants to establish 40 one-bedroom apartments for senior citizens on the former Thurber Lumber property in Rocky Point. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Nearly a month after Rocky Point’s Thurber Lumber Co. Inc. closed its doors, developer Mark Baisch of Landmark Properties plans on transforming the property to make room for senior citizens.

Baisch said he wants to establish 40 one-bedroom apartments on the former 1.8-acre space near Broadway to help the area’s aging population. Baisch hasn’t finalized rent for these 600 square foot apartments, but said future residents will pay a little more than $1,000 a month.

Baisch has been met with some opposition on his plans.

“People say he does good work, but to come in and say ‘this is what’s going to work down here, even though you don’t want it,’ is kind of strange,” said Albert Hanson, vice president of the Rocky Point Civic Association and chair of the land use committee.

Hanson said the civic and members of the community, who found out about the plans in February, haven’t had ample time to brainstorm alternative ideas for the area. Hanson added that the area doesn’t need additional housing.

According to Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Rocky Point is a high-density area already, and she added that the Thurber property is also a small area for Baisch’s apartments. The Legislator said she envisions different plans for the property.

“I would love to see a community center over there,” said Anker. “[The property is in] the heart of downtown Rocky Point.”

But Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Baisch’s plans comply with a land use plan conducted in the area several years ago. Brookhaven officials adopted the land use plan for downtown Rocky Point back in 2012. The plan called for medium density housing in downtown Rocky Point, among other improvements. Although some residents oppose the plan, the councilwoman said there is a need for these kinds of residences townwide.

“There’s a large number of seniors who live back in North Shore Beach …. and many have reached out to me excited about this,” the councilwoman said.

Baisch wanted to create apartment units because of the property’s sanitary flow requirements — the amount of sewage per unit is less for a 600 square foot unit. According to Baisch, the apartments will give seniors more freedom in their daily lives. He added that Suffolk County is committed to establishing a bus stop in the area to further assist prospective senior residents.

“They have to pay taxes, they have to pay their oil bill, they have to pay for repairs [for their home] — Rocky Point is probably one of the most unsafe communities I know of, to walk around,” Baisch said. “So they have all these things that are burdening them as seniors and they basically have nowhere to go.”

Baisch added that these residents could live comfortably in his apartments on their Social Security or the equity they received after selling their home. While some senior citizens, like Linda Cathcart of Rocky Point, don’t plan on selling their home any time soon, she said Baisch’s plans will bring a stable population to the area.

“There’s 40 units proposed, so you’re talking about possibly 80 seniors who could bring business to the existing businesses,” Cathcart said. “Also, it would encourage new businesses to come into the area.”

Cathcart added that Baisch discussed putting the original railroad station structure from the area on the property, in addition to the apartment units. The railroad structure dates back to the 1920s and 30s.

Despite the proposed plans for the property, Hanson said the civic and some community members were debating using other local talent or developers to establish a vision and plan for the area that appeals to other residents.

“We have to think of what we would like to see down there that would make us draw [people to downtown Rocky Point],” Hanson said about the property. “I think what a lot of people don’t want is losing the opportunity to actually have a downtown.”