By Christine Sampson
The latest proposal for affordable housing in East Hampton Town, a 37-unit, mixed-income plan for 4.67 acres at 531 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, is awaiting word of approval for funding from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR).
That’s according to Catherine M. Casey, executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority (EHHA), the part-government, part-private-sector entity that is shepherding the project forward. The 12 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom units proposed are sorely needed, she said. But the decision won’t come down from DHCR until April or May.
“I’m very optimistic about the future of this project,” Ms. Casey said Wednesday. “It’s very difficult to get the ball rolling. We have received favorable feedback from the state from DHCR.”
Ms. Casey said the total project will cost about $21.5 million, which is expected to come from a number of sources — the federal and state governments, Suffolk County and private developers. Suffolk County has committed $1,128,000 from its infrastructure subsidy program for an innovative septic system. The East Hampton Town administration, from the Community Housing Opportunity Fund, appropriated $70,000 in 2016 toward pre-development costs for the project at 531 Montauk Highway, although the EHHA has yet to receive it.
Since the project was first pitched, a few key changes have been made. For instance, four studio apartments were removed from the plan, as was a “community service facility” that was to make use of its business-use overlay zoning to provide co-working space and startup space for small businesses and service agencies such as home nursing or job placement operations. That was met with opposition, Ms. Casey said, because of the commercial zoning.
“So as not to throw the baby out with the bath water, the EHHA decided to take the community service facility out of the site plan application and just go with the residential,” she said. “It was a community compromise.”
Once the state funding decision comes through and construction has begun, the project will begin accepting applications from potential residents.
The EHHA has clashed with the Amagansett School District over the project’s potential impact on the school, but Ms. Casey said the two entities are committed to working together. The EHHA has also settled on a $25,000 payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in the development’s first year of occupancy, with a 2-percent increase in the PILOT each year for the next 20 years.
“For the most part, we are getting favorable comments from the community,” Ms. Casey said. “People are supportive and are in a hurry, saying, ‘My daughter needs a place,’ ‘My brother in law’s family needs a place.’ Employers are very much looking forward to it because it’s mixed-income workforce housing. We’ve gotten random favorable comments, but that isn’t to say there isn’t opposition, and we will suss that out when we have a public hearing at the planning board.”