The Suffolk County Planning Commission voted and unanimously approved the first phase of a $4 billion Heartland Town Square mixed-use redevelopment. The meeting, held on February 1, was the second part of a public hearing in Riverhead. Members listened to numerous speakers discuss pertinent topics such as the effect such a big project would have on traffic and waste water. The next step to move the project forward will be a public hearing for Islip’s town board. It will be up to the Town Board to rezone the property and approve the required site plan and building permits. In August Islip’s planning board recommended to approve the first phase of the ambitious project.
As reported by LI Business News, the mixed-use redevelopment in Brentwood, which is on the former Pilgrim State psychiatric hospital property, is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken in Long Island. The project’s first phase is anticipated to build 400,000 square feet of retail space, 300,000 square feet of office space, and over 3,000 apartments, completing about a third of the redevelopment site. The first phase may take up to 10 years to complete.
The Heartland redevelopment in its entirety, eventually aspires to build 1 million square feet of retail space, over 3 million square feet of offices, and 9,100 apartments at the Brentwood site. The 460-acre redevelopment site was purchased by developer Gerald Wolkoff from the state, fifteen years ago for $ $20.1 million. Mr. Wolkoff says the project will produce about 23,000 permanent jobs and more than 1,500 construction jobs annually throughout its building time, which may possibly span over three decades.
A majority of Brentwood community members offered support for the Heartland project. There were objections from other Suffolk communities in the January meeting. Many of the meeting’s attendees were members of Long Island’s building trades unions. They came to request a labor agreement for the project and a law that would obligate the developers to give local construction workers preference when hiring. Richard O’Kane, President of the Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades Council, has said that Wolkoff has not been flexible with the unions in previous meetings. Wolkoff has previously stated that Heartland will be constructed with mostly union workers, but has also said that he did not want to be chained during the hiring process.
By: Benyamin Davidson