As we head into Memorial Day weekend and the summer months lets take a moment and respect the importance Long Island’s downtowns have in our communities. Small businesses, parks, events, arts, culture, and many religious and community gatherings center around our downtowns. The good news is that there are thousands of Long Islanders actively making positive changes to these great places.
There are folks working now to organize events, open shops, beautify the local streets, renovate and redevelop buildings and improve public safety. We wanted this blog to continue the discussion of the benefits and strategic advantages of LI’s downtowns and this first post to address some of the recent efforts to bring housing to our downtown business districts.
A large part of the market, especially young people and baby boomers, want to live in walkable, vibrant downtowns with easy access to transit. This “Smart Growth” model depends on bringing housing into our downtowns to support local small businesses and to bring life to the street.
There have been over 6,000 units of this form of housing approved in downtowns over the last 6 years.
Glen Cove recently approved a large-scale waterfront redevelopment that will build on 56 acres of former industrial land. “Glen Isle” will include retail, office, open space, parks, trails, restaurants, cultural amenities, a hotel and 860 units of housing--with a mix of rentals and owner-occupied condos. Glen Cove will also soon have a “Piazza” with 142 rental units surrounding a European-style public plaza. Glen Cove’s Mayor ushered in these and other recent approvals with help from a master plan document that he worked to approve in 2009.
Patchogue may be the poster child for new housing in a downtown, with built projects over the last 10 years such as Copper Beech (80 affordable rental townhouse units), Artspace (45 artist loft live/work apartments), and The River Walk (163 owner-occupied townhouse units), with more on the way including New Village (292 apartments and mixed-use development).
Just as impressive is Westbury Village, which has built over 800 units of housing in their downtown in recent years with little fanfare, ranging from townhouses to apartments. The renovation of their downtown theater is almost complete, and as an extra bonus the theater will have 6 live/work apartment units upstairs.
Bay Shore is moving forward with several redevelopment projects, anchored by the 26-unit Chelsea Place project located right next to the train station.
Huntington Station has approved a 379 unit project, while within the Village smaller housing projects are on the way including a 6-unit infill rental project.
Hempstead Village has long sought revitalization, and with the designation of Renaissance Downtowns as Master Developer, they are well on their way to bringing more housing and sustainable land uses into their downtown.
And in Farmingdale, a long-stalled community-driven vision plan is moving forward with the approval of a mixed-use zoning code that will allow more housing to be built around Main Street, including apartments over stores. Bartone Plaza will build apartments and retail space at an old warehouse near the train station, as well as a downtown hotel across the street.
We anticipate more long-awaited downtown improvements to move forward in Farmingdale and other downtowns across Long Island in the coming months and years. Send us your thoughts on what can improve your downtown and some examples of projects you or your friends or neighbors are working on to firstname.lastname@example.org.