Redevelopment of Avis Site Begins on Old Country Road
It may have taken nearly a decade, but the long-abandoned former headquarters of Avis, the car rental company, situated on Old Country Road in Westbury, is coming down, making way for commercial and retail space, a stone's throw from the Roosevelt Field and Source malls.
Long ripe for redevelopment considering its decade-old brownfield status, it will be wonderful to see the old eyesore of the Avis site reinvented. It is also heartening to see the Town of Hempstead partnering with Equity One, a major player in the development of commercial properties, this toward the removal of what has long been a blight upon Old Country Road.
Hopefully, the new space, once completed, will be utilized wisely, and we will not see merely the addition of vacant storefronts and retail space that has plagued not only Old Country Road, but Main Streets across Long Island, since the economic downturn. Just down the road, the half empty Source Mall is floundering.
If "build it and they will come" heralds in a new era of prosperity for Old Country Road, the project may well be a boon for the local economy.
Clearly, the Avis building had to go. What was left of it was a ramshakled shell of its former self. Breathing new life into that Old Country Road could only be for the better.
Turning the corner, heading just south, lies yet another major corridor in desperate need of a facelift. Hempstead Turnpike, where another brownfield, the dilapidated Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding desolation of the Nassau Hub, awaits a renaissance of its own.
Onward and, one can only hope, upward!
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From the Town of Hempstead:
Knocking Down Old Offices & Building Up the Economy - Hempstead, Equity One Kick Off $100 Million Development at Former Avis Site
A decade after Avis Rent-A-Car moved its headquarters from Garden City to Parsippany, New Jersey, Hempstead Town and Equity One, Inc. knocked down some of the last remaining walls of the car rental giant's decrepit former corporate headquarters. At a media event attended by Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Jeffrey Olson, Chief Executive Officer of Equity One, Inc., the officials announced the upcoming construction of an impressive 330,000 square foot retail, banking and restaurant development that will boast a $100 million investment into the local economy through direct construction related expenditures. Also at the press conference were Hempstead Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin.
"As we knock down this office building, we are building up our local economy," stated Murray. "While significant development projects have stalled across the nation during this economic crisis, Hempstead Town is proud to have worked together with a highly respected developer to bring about a progressive project at this Old Country Road site. At the same time, I would like to commend Equity One for investing in America's largest township."
Impressive in scale and aesthetically attractive, the new development will restore luster to a major Long Island commercial thoroughfare. The projected composition of the buildings will include over 315,000 square feet of retail space, almost 11,000 square feet of restaurant area and over 3,200 square feet designated for a financial institution.
Increased tax revenues, positive economic impacts as well as the creation of construction jobs and long-term employment are key benefits of the Equity One venture. Sales tax receipts totaling over $4.5 million are anticipated.
Permanent employment in management, retail service, business and financial operations, among other fields, is expected to result in over 600 jobs. During the construction phase an annual average approaching 500 workers will be employed. Finally, the total economic activity that would result from the construction of the former Avis site is projected to be in the range of $160 million.
"Creating jobs, stimulating the economy and generation of tax revenues are important, particularly in a difficult economy," stated Murray. "This Equity One venture will beautify Old Country Road, create a great new destination and expand our economy," added Goosby.
"We're thrilled to be here celebrating with Supervisor Murray and other elected officials. The Town of Hempstead has been a tremendous partner during the entire development process, and we look forward to working with them as we prepare to start construction on this wonderful project," stated Olson.
Officials from Hempstead Town and Equity One called the project a uniquely positive emblem of the resiliency of the area's economy, the strength of Hempstead Town's finances and the ability of Equity One to successfully develop vibrant construction projects through strategic planning and comprehensive economic analysis. Many developers have pointed to the importance of governments that are fiscally well managed with stable tax bases in selecting sites for economic investment. Hempstead Town boasts the highest Wall Street credit ratings available, and Supervisor Murray has already commenced work on a 2012 budget that will freeze all town taxes. Additionally, the resiliency of the town's tax base has been evidenced through increased sales tax revenues over the past three quarters (year to year comparison).
"We're pleased that Equity One has selected America's largest township for this important project," said Murray. "Progressive and reasonable development like this contributes to our stable tax base and bolsters the town's top-notch finances."
Olson noted, "Between this project and our recent acquisition of Westbury Plaza, Equity One will invest more than $200 million in this municipality. Old Country Road is one of the strongest retail corridors in the nation, and we believe our commitment to this area will be beneficial both to our company and to the surrounding community."
Hempstead Town officials played an important role in facilitating the development at 900 Old Country Road. Murray and the entire Town Board reviewed and approved the developer's site plan for the project. Ensuring that the development was consistent with surrounding real estate uses, determining that the construction could be accommodated by the local infrastructure and reviewing aesthetic impacts of the project were all issues that the Town Board considered when they approved the site plan. Additionally, the town's Board of Appeals granted variances that allowed for a reasonable increase in the allowable density of the development as well as relief from other zoning restrictions.
"Today we're knocking down walls and building up the economy at the same time," concluded Murray. "Working together, Equity One and Hempstead officials are beautifying a major business corridor, bringing about progressive development, creating jobs, stimulating the economy and generating tax revenues. This major project shows that even in difficult economic times, quality developers and financially strong governments can accomplish great things together."