Broker Janalyn Travis-Messer is building a single-family rental ranch house on the lot at North Ferry and Hedges roads where not so long ago she sought unsuccessfully to create community housing units.
Work began on clearing the lot about two weeks ago and the pre-fab house is expected to be completed by April, Ms. Travis-Messer said. She described the structure as “not your typical ranch,” saying it’s listed as a ranch because it will be a single story structure.
From the time she was turned down by the Town Board on building a two-unit house under the Community Housing Board (CHB) requirements, Ms. Travis-Messer said she would build a rental unit on the lot that wouldn’t need any variances from the town code.
Under the CHB plan, she would have been limited to what she could charge for rents based on the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations for Suffolk County.
Under the HUD limits, she would not have been able to collect more than $3,413 in total monthly rent. She’s not ready to say what she intends to charge in rent for the new single story unit.
“I decided to put my money where my mouth is,” she said about pushing ahead with the current project. The need for year-round rental housing is vital on Shelter Island, Ms. Travis-Messer said.
She’s already had a lot of inquiries and if all goes as smoothly as she expects with this first house, she plans to build other rental units around the Island.
Ms. Travis-Messer hopes her move will inspire others to follow her lead and create more rental units. There’s plenty of room for competition for year-round rentals, she said. Other real estate professionals on the Island have expressed similar comments, saying they have many inquiries for rentals, but few listings.
“I hope I’ve sparked a little rally for this,” Ms. Travis-Messer said.
What she has sought to do, she said, is provide safe, year-round housing.
“Is it fancy? No. Is it tastefully done? Yes,” Ms. Travis-Messer said about the current unit. “I’m really thrilled.”