New affordable housing units hit the market in Greenport

For the first time in decades, new affordable housing is available in Greenport.

Sixteen years after an agreement was first hammered out to include five affordable apartments in a plan to build a market rate condominium complex on Greenport’s treasured waterfront, the long-sought apartments finally went on sale last month.  The June 8 edition of Suffolk Times contains an ad seeking applicants.

The five residential units, between 600-650 square feet, are selling for $175,000 each, though the buyers must meet a number of financial and residential conditions to be eligible to purchase a unit.

Roughly 80 applications for the affordable units have been received so far, said Kristopher Amplo of Four Forty Five Real Estate LLC, which owns the property. The developers are working closely with the Greenport Housing Authority and village officials and sharing the applications with the authority — which will help vet applicants for eligibility, he said.

Mr. Amplo said his firm is “working very closely with the village to choose the applications that will ultimately be selected.”

He said there wouldn’t be a lottery.

“This is not a lottery situation.”

He said he “can’t speak to detail of how they will be chosen other than to say that we are following our stipulations drawn up with the village and the original property developer.”  

Mr. Amplo also said that while there is currently no “hard end date” for accepting applications, the application process will have to end at some point soon.

In order to apply, a prospective buyer must have lived or worked within the village or the school district boundaries for at least the previous two years; the units must be the owner’s primary residence; buyers must be first time homebuyers who own no other residential property and make less than $139,480.

The affordable units cannot be combined, and while an owner can sell at market rate after two years, that would trigger a “flip tax” equal to 25% of the difference between the original purchase price of $175,000 and the sale price. That tax revenue would be split evenly between the village and the developer.

These five affordable apartments have been at the heart of ongoing disputes over the fate of the property since 2007, when the first deal was struck to include the five units in the project.

Since then, various developers, village officials and Sterling Avenue neighbors of the complex have been butting heads over the fate of the 45,000 square foot former shellfish processing plant.  

Richard Raskin spent five years locked in litigation with the Sterling Basin Neighborhood Association before striking the 2007 deal that would include the affordable units and a number of other usage and zoning requirements. But the project never got off the ground and in 2019, his group sold the property to Paul Pawlowski and 123 Sterling Ave. LLC.

Mr. Pawlowski built the complex and spent several years trying to renegotiate the terms of the 2007 agreement so he could move the five affordable units to another location. That effort failed, and two years later Mr. Pawlowski sold the property to Four Forty Five Real Estate.

At least four of the dozen market rate condos remain on sale after more than a year, and the initially planned price points intended for the units have been reduced – significantly in some cases.

Mr. Amplo said that a “handful” of the market rate condos are currently in contract.

Unlike some of the previous proposals for 123 Sterling Ave. over the years, there is no  commercial component in the current operating plan. 

Greenport Mayor Kevin Stuessi said he was glad to see the five new units hit the market, but that he would have preferred to see them listed last spring, when the market rate condos were first advertised for sale.

“Without a doubt, it’s a wonderful thing to see these units go on the market,” he said.

Mr. Stuessi said that “one of the first things I did when I took office” was to move that process along, asking developer and Huntington councilman Salvatore Ferro and his attorney for a meeting at which the mayor said that Mr. Ferro agreed to begin marketing the affordable apartments. Mr. Ferro declined comment.

“My belief in reading the agreement is that those restricted units should have immediately been placed for sale the moment the market rate ones did” in May 2022, Mr. Stuessi said.

Mr. Amplo would say only that the timing of placing the new units on the market was a “business decision.”

Former mayor David Kappel, who oversaw the negotiations that led to the original 2007 deal, said this week that “the timing of these coming on the market is particularly good.

“The challenge for the village, unlike the town is that there’s virtually no land left to build on.”

He said the original agreement aimed to ensure that the affordable apartments stayed affordable.

“These are, by design, relatively small, modest apartments that are not going to appeal to most people in the market. That was to use a market approach rather than a regulatory approach.”

Both the former and current mayor said it has been decades since new affordable housing has become available in the village.