By Amelia Camurati
Downtown Mineola is getting a facelift, and one major project along that path is on its way to completion while another is in the works.
Mineola building superintendent Daniel Whalen updated Mayor Scott Strauss and village trustees Wednesday night on the progress of two construction projects in downtown Mineola.
Plans have been approved for the Village Green site at 199 Second St., a 266-unit apartment building with commercial spaces on the ground floor, and developer Kevin Lalezarian with Lalezarian Properties has started on the excavation. Whalen said he expects the project will be completed within 18 months to two years.
Approved by a 4-1 vote in May 2015, the building is a short walk from the Mineola Long Island Rail Road station and is targeted at affluent commuters looking for a small-town downtown experience.
Another downtown apartment building project on Searing Avenue is a few steps behind the Village Green. Whalen said he has issued permits for the abatement of the existing asbestos, directing construction fences and blinding as well as the removal of trees from the former Corpus Christi Elementary School site.
Texas-based developer Mill Creek Residential Trust is still working with the village Public Works Department and its superintendent, Thomas Rini, and Whalen is in negotiations with the group about their financial responsibilities. Whalen said he is hopeful those negotiations will be finished by the end of June.
“The ball is squarely in their court,” Whalen said. “Plans have been reviewed, stamped, sealed and signed, and now we’re just waiting for the principals to get their act together.”
Part of a larger downtown revitalization project in Mineola, Strauss said he is thrilled to see the village growing with these projects and two already completed apartment buildings on Old Country Road.
“We’re doing things in our downtown that other villages and other communities can only dream about,” he said.
Two years ago, Trustee Paul Cusato was the lone dissenting vote for the controversial project, despite the building being shortened by one floor and 30 apartments before the vote.
“For me, this building is too big in size and mass, and I am voting no,” Cusato said in May 2015, citing its proximity to Winthrop-University Hospital research center.
In many past public hearings, residents also were concerned about the size of the building nestled into the quaint Mineola downtown area, fearing aesthetic problems as well as issues with traffic flow.
Strauss, however, has testified that reports show the new complex will be a benefit for downtown businesses and an important step toward completing the village’s Master Plan.