More apartments planned in Islip
Artist rendering of the proposed Gracewood Estates in Islip.

Artist rendering by Gracewood Estates

More apartments planned in Islip

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
3/31/2016


ISLIP—There was an item on the agenda at last Wednesday’s planning board meeting that was very familiar to many of those in attendance: a proposed apartment development on vacant land off of Spur Drive South. in Islip. Although the board reserved decision on the item, there were a number of residents who still left the meeting concerned.

The application was for Gracewood Estates LLC, located on the east side of Freeman Avenue and 300 feet south of Spur Drive South. The request was for a change of zone from Industrial 1 and 2 districts to both Residence CA District and Industrial 1 District in order to construct 96 apartments and a mini storage warehouse. The applicant also asked for town board approval to utilize increased density permitted in the CA District. A minor subdivision would also be required, as well as site plan modifications.

This application was first presented in 2013. In July of that year, more than 100 residents packed the Islip Town Board Room to voice their concerns about the proposed project. However, the application was eventually withdrawn.

The newest proposed apartments are slated to once again be situated on nearly 10 acres of property in an area that is mixed-use residential, business and industrial. A cookie factory and exercise gym is located nearby, as is a junkyard and the Islip Town Rifle Range.

At one time this was the site of Islip Airport, which was in operation up until the mid-1940s and then subsequently became Islip Speedway.  More recently though, some individuals have used the vacant land to illegally operate all-terrain vehicles there. That activity has disturbed some neighbors.

Peter Krausch, who resides in the area, said he attended last week’s meeting, as well as the meetings that were held in 2013, and opposed the project both times.

“I’m not opposed to development,” he said. “I’m just opposed to this type of development.”

Krausch said there are already too many rental units in Islip. “I’d like to see affordable homes built on that site,” he noted, adding that ownership would give the residents of that complex an incentive in maintaining the property. “I’m concerned [the project] could drive down home values in the area,” he said. Krausch had suggested the developer maintain the current zoning and transform the site into a for-profit park, noting that ATV enthusiasts already use the property that way. He said he would also be in support of maintaining the current business/industrial zoning. “A business would operate within the current zoning and would create jobs and [boost] the local economy,” he added.

The developer, Mark Sagliocca, said he understands the concern of neighbors, and that’s why he held an informational meeting ahead of the planning board meeting for those who live closest to his proposed development. He said most who attended that meeting left feeling a lot better about the project and that the new designs and better understanding of the complex helped to allay concerns.

“This is a transition parcel,” Sagliocca said. “People are concerned about change. But people also understand that something is going to be built there.”

The Bay Shore developer said that after hearing the anxiety of neighbors in 2013, he worked with his architects and the Islip Planning Department to come up with an alternative design to address those worries. He said a separate self-storage facility would be located in a low-impact area, closer to the industrial section of the parcel. The apartment complex would be “park-like” with a Nantucket-style façade with plenty of green space. It would consist of 54 two-bedroom and 42 one-bedroom units. The apartments are slated to be considered high-end, costing $1950 for two bedroom and $1550 for one bedroom.

However, the price of the rentals could change by the time the complex is ready for occupancy. “We expect the cost to go higher by then because of the demand. We get a huge calling for rentals in Islip,” he added.

Since the complex is not age specific, Sagliocca said based on studies, it is estimated that between 19-21 children would be added to the district.

The development would require certain criteria to be met, which includes affordable housing. Twelve of the 96 units will be considered affordable. “People are concerned about low-income housing, but we will make sure we have the highest caliber [residents],” he said, adding that one-bedroom units in that block would still rent for $1350 a month.

“We will not only build it, but also maintain it,” Sagliocca said, noting that he has received nothing but positive feedback from the neighbors of his Bay Shore apartment complex on Fifth Avenue, Chelsea Place.

“It’s all about change,” he added. “But there is no doubt this [complex] will enhance that area.”

More information about Gracewood Estates can be found on the website: www.greenwoodestates.com.