Artist's rendering of the new building elevation facing Peconic River and Grangebel Park.

Forty-five apartments. Nine hundred and one prospective tenants.

Only a small portion of the 901 people who sent in applications for one of the 45 new rental apartments at Peconic Crossing turned out for the lottery drawing held at Riverhead Town Hall this morning. But those who attended the lottery filled the town hall meeting room for the random drawing.

The lottery was held to rank the applications, though they will be further ranked according to priorities required by the federal and state funding sources utilized for the project. Preference will be given to applicants who are artists or who were displaced by a “covered storm” such as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.

A spinning raffle ticket drum was filled with cards imprinted with the applicants’ names. Representatives of Conifer Realty and Community Development Corporation of Long Island, who are partners in the multifamily development, as well as East End Arts president John McLane, took turns drawing cards from the drum.

The applicants’ names were drawn from this filled-to-capacity raffle drum. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The drawing continued until all 901 cards in the drum were picked. Artists who were displaced by a covered storm — there were five such applications — will be at the top of the list, in the order in which they were chosen. They will be followed by artists of which there were 99 applicants, also ranked in the order in which their cards were pulled from the drum. Next will come people displaced by a covered storm who are not artists (11 applicants), followed by the 786 remaining applications.

Southold native Katherine Silvestro, an artist whose name was drawn early, said she’s looking forward to living downtown.

Katherine Silvestro, 26, a graphic designer who grew up in Southold and graduated from McGann-Mercy High School, was one of the lucky people whose name was drawn early in the process.

She currently rents an apartment in Shirley because decent rental housing on the North Fork is so hard to come by, she said.

“I’m looking forward to living in downtown Riverhead, being able to walk everywhere,” Silvestro said. “The downtown area is an up-and-coming place,” she said. She works on the South Fork, so living in Riverhead will significantly cut her commute and gasoline expenses. “I’m very excited.”

Anilee Bishop of Aquebogue with her children Reagan and Spencer. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead High School graduate Anilee Bishop, 32, who lives in Aquebogue, is a a graphic artist and photographer looking for a two-bedroom apartment for herself and her two young children.

“It’s hard to find an apartment that’s not in somebody’s basement,” she said.

“Being around other artists would be great, too,” she said.

Frances Twyman of Riverhead smiles when she hears her name pulled from the raffle drum. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Frances Twyman, 69, of Riverhead, raised her family here and was displaced by Irma last fall, she said. She is temporary housed at the Greenview Motel on West Main Street. The cost of living there consumes 80 percent of her Social Security retirement income. Twyman works a part-time job to make ends meet. If she can rent a one-bedroom apartment at Peconic Crossing, the rent will be less than 50-percent of her monthly retirement income.

“I’ll be able to breathe a lot easier,” Twyman said.

CDCLI will work from the ranked list to qualify applicants, who must meet income limits, said Gwen O’Shea, president and CEO of CDCLI.

Community Development Corporation of Long Island president and CEO Gwen O’Shea speaks to the audience about the development. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Five apartments (two one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units) will be filled by people who earn no more than 50 percent of the area median income. Thirty-five apartments (12 one-bedroom and 23 two-bedroom units) will go to people who earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income. Five apartments (two one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units) will be filled by people earning no more than 90 percent of the area median income.

The Nassau-Suffolk area median income — which is the AMI required to be used — is $116,700 for a family of four.

One-bedroom rents are $976 (50 percent AMI), $1014 (60-percent AMI) and $1,159 (90 percent AMI). Two-bedroom rents are $1,169 (50 percent AMI), $1,208 (60-percent AMI) and $1,562 (90 percent AMI).

Peconic Crossing at 11 W. Main St., overlooking Grangebel Park is being developed by Conifer Realty in collaboration with CDCLI, which provides financing and management services. The $18 million project has received loans from Suffolk County and the Empire State Development Fund, $4.5 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Funds and more than $9 million generated in low-income housing tax credit equity provided through New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

The five-story building will feature a 1,500-square-foot, ground-floor gallery space that will be managed by East End Arts, plus a fifth-floor community room with scenic views of the park, a fitness center, laundry facilities and on-site professional management.

The developer anticipates tenants will begin moving into their apartments around mid-July.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.