October 29, 2012
Port Washington, N.Y.—A celebration was held October 16 to mark completion of the $7.8 million rehabilitation of Cow Bay Apartments, an 88-unit affordable housing community in Port Washington, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore.
A number of state and local officials were on hand to help unveil the rehabilitated property at 2 Bay Green Lane in Port Washington. Built in 1971 with financing from HUD, the property consists of seven two-story garden apartment buildings. The unit mix is made up of 10 studio, 21 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom, 29 three-bedroom and six four-bedroom apartments.
Prior to the rehabilitation, the property had fallen into substantial disrepair. “The need for renovation was becoming critical,” Robert Riggs, senior vice president of New York City-based Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a key player in the project, tells MHN. “There were constant roof leaks, and a question as to whether the current heating system would see residents through another winter.”
In addition, Riggs says, a retaining wall composed of wooden railroad ties built into a slope around the community was in danger of collapsing. What’s more, heavy rains would often result in standing water around the property.
Cow Bay Apartments is a single-asset entity controlled by a board of directors comprised of residents and members of the larger community, Riggs adds. The board of directors was challenged to find a developer capable of making a quantitative preservation proposal, but eventually located The Bluestone Group, which in turn brought in the contractor. “Between them, they put together a real scope of renovations, with costs and timelines associated with it,” Riggs says.
“There’s a long-term HAP contract on the property, so they had to go to HUD with this proposal and ask to renegotiate the HAP contract to increase the operating revenue, supporting not just operations but the debt service on the loan to renovate. Also, they had to find a construction lender comfortable with the property and the HAP contract, with the expertise to do a tenant-in-place renovation on this scale in an affordable housing community.”
CPC, which had worked with Bluestone, was brought into the rehabilitation effort, and put together the short-term and long-term financing package, while also refinancing the very modest existing HUD mortgage.
In addition, CPC also “made significant changes to the scope, to make sure energy efficiency was a priority on the project,” Riggs says. “The residents will benefit from those savings for years to come.”
At the local political level, the project required significant support. “There was an existing PILOT [Payment In Lieu Of Tax] agreement,” Riggs says.
“The county, township and school board had to be approached and asked to renegotiate the current PILOT agreement in order to support the renovation and preservation of the affordable housing. In the end, it was critical, and the local community entities really came through.”
Cow Bay Apartments has long been seen as an asset to its community, and the physical deterioration of the property was a threat to its making a continuing contribution to life in the area.
Says Riggs: “The renovation will allow the apartments to continue to make that contribution, and continue to be seen as an asset to the community.”