Tag Archives: Long Island

Prolific Long Island College Sees First Construction Project in Decades

St. Joseph’s College, Long Island in the village of Patchogue, Long Island, is hopeful that soon, students will be able to return to everyday life once the COVID-19 global pandemic is under control. SJC Long Island students were able to return to school under limited capacity as of Fall 2020, but classes and activities, of course, look nothing like they did prior to the pandemic. 

The college recently announced plans for a new student center that will accommodate a growing student population. As of 2020, SJC Long Island had 3,200 graduate and undergraduate students and was in desperate need of a new center to accommodate them. The college has not had any construction projects in over 20 years.

What Are the Specifics of the Student Center?

The new student center at SJC Long Island will be two stories tall and will have 32,000 square feet of space for students to use. Some of the amenities and spaces planned for inside the student center include an art gallery, dining area, gift shop, and a chapel with a combined office for the campus ministry. Yet other spaces include room for lounges, conference rooms, computer labs, and areas for faculty and students to use in which to study.

Why Is This Construction Important?

As the student body begins to grow at SJC, Long Island, college president Donald Boomgaarden believes this expansion is important not only to the SLC Long Island campus, but to the public at large as well. 

He says, “St. Joseph’s wants to be ready for the future, and this student center will assist us in our goal to bring a first-class educational experience to our students – and provide a valuable resource to the greater public.” 

Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri also said that SJC Long Island has been vital to the revitalization of the Village of Patchogue and believes the new student center will help create a “sense of community.” Everyone at SJC Long Island is extremely excited about the project – and of course, the day when the student center can be used and the pandemic is under control.

When Will the Construction Begin?

St. Joseph’s College Long Island has begun the early planning process with the Village of Patchogue as well as the Town of Brookhaven, and construction is expected to begin in 2021. 

The time frame and exact end-date of the project are unknown, but contacts at SJC Long Island hope that the student center’s conclusion is expected to finish within “the next few years.”

For information on this, and other projects, please contact CIS Leads.

Increased Need for Long Island Development Necessitates Immediate Demand

The nature of Long Island’s geography poses a problem for those commuting into the city because there is only so much transit-oriented housing to create. While there are so many reasons to want to live on Long Island instead of in the boroughs, it’s unrealistic to wait for someone to move to find affordable housing. 

However, earlier this year, there are plans underway to transform mixed-use developments (blends of commercial real estate and housing) into more transit-centric and accessible housing within the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge. 

Formerly known as the Hauppauge Industrial Park, the name was changed earlier in 2020 to reinvent the industrial park as more of a technological hub where companies can come to roost—and workers can have convenient and affordable places to live, and better yet enjoy life on Long Island. Even before any new development, the size of Hauppauge Industrial Park was second in size only to Silicon Valley, so the idea carries a lot of merits. 

The Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island (HIA-LI) recently held its group trade show in October 2020. They unveiled many new ideas concerning the project; however, they are still seeking approval for it.

Why Is There Such a Demand for New Housing in Long Island?

According to a Deloitte study, it’s estimated that millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce within the next five years. Yet a nextLIstudy found that over 60 percent of millennials are thinking about moving off the island. It’s more than just a housing issue; however, having affordable housing and lower taxes could keep the workforce on the island and improve the economy. 

According to Robert Coughlan, co-founder of TRITEC Real Estate Company, an East Setauket-based developer, the gap between the number of units needed on Long Island and the number available is nearly double, so the housing shortage is profound. A few decades ago, this was much different, but instead of a millennial workforce, the shift was more toward working families. 

Now that the housing need is more toward smaller units, different designs need to be built, and of course, different projects. There is also a sudden shift to move to Long Island to avoid COVID-19, which is straining housing on the island even further, according to Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute.

What Is the Forecast for the Long Island Innovation Park?

While the project itself is still pending approval, the push to move forward is gaining momentum. 

Earlier in 2020, the Town of Smithtown reclassified the industrial park, which allowed the developers to design plans to have apartment housing next to many retail storefronts on ground-level space. This would allow for as many as 1,000 apartments within the industrial park itself. At this time, plans also include a workforce training center, greenway connection, business incubators, and quality of life amenities. 

The forecast for completion can be tough to gauge; a similar project, the New Village at Patchogue, required eight years of work before completion, but that was in a pre-pandemic world. 

Making Every Floor Count: City of New York Closes Mechanical Void Loophole

After approval by the city council on May 29, 2019, an amendment that stands to noticeably affect the New York City skyline, has been ratified. It comes in the form of an attempt to close a unique loophole in zoning laws that creates taller residential buildings with far less available living space. The Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment imposes new regulations on the use of excessive mechanical voids in building construction.

What, Exactly, Are Mechanical Voids, and What Is the Problem? 

Before this amendment, mechanical voids of any kind did not count in the square footage of usable space in a zoning permit. The reason for this is that these voids usually make up floors for storing mechanical equipment for the building and mechanical bulkheads in the tops of some high-rise structures. In a residential space, these entire floors are not habitable and therefore do not count toward the square footage, hence the name “void.” The projected height of a building generally should not be largely different from the finished product. 

This is where the issue of excessive mechanical voids comes into play and what the amendment hopes to do away with in future projects, involving not only the size of singular voids but also how multiple close voids can be in relation to each other. The amendment seeks to address issues such as:

  • Too-tall buildings. With uninhabitable spaces in a high-rise building reaching and exceeding the equivalent of multiple habitable floors, the final structure is far higher than zoning would have otherwise allowed. This poses environmental changes to other parts of the city, such as longer shadows cast on parts of Central Park, as suggested by activists supporting stronger regulations. 
  • Inflated cost of living. These taller buildings in highly demanded corners of the city use these voids to reduce the amount of livable space on lower floors, meaning the available residences are higher up and ultimately cost more. As the discussion around affordable housing in the city of New York continues to rage, the closing of this loophole has become a necessary part of the discussion

Is The New Legislation Enough? What Are Critics Saying? 

While some hail this decision as an essential first step, others say the amendment is not enough. In some cases, this has already led to some slight alterations. For instance, the City of New York website notes that criticism did lead to some changes before the amendment’s final passage. Initially, the minimum allowable height of a mechanical void that would not be counted among usable space in zoning was 25 feet in height, raised to 30 feet to allow a more reasonable amount of space for mechanical equipment. By and large, criticisms come from both sides of the debate: 

  • Not strict enough, say some critics. Gale Brewer, President of the Manhattan Borough, believes the required distance between voids (before they are counted as zoned space) should be increased from 75 feet to 90 feet. City Councilman Ben Kallos suggested that the allowable size of unzoned space for individual voids should cap at 14 feet rather than 30 feet. 
  • Space is needed for growing energy trends. At a time when New York has committed itself to increasing energy efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint, lobbying groups like the Real Estate Board of New York insist that these limitations further limit developers’ ability to incorporate evolving technologies for lowering energy costs. Mechanical equipment, including ventilation systems and batteries, require space. The latter, especially, are growing larger all the time. 

As the debate continues and further restrictions are proposed at the state and local level, the discussion will only continue to evolve just as the city skyline does. For now, whether it reaches unforeseen heights or becomes more down-to-earth discourse remains to be seen. 

The Next Great Hope, Again: Nassau Hub

While the debate continues on the loss of Amazon  headquarters from Long Island City—best or worst thing to happen to New York and who gets the blame or the credit?—out on Long Island, politicians are pushing the Nassau Hub as the next great, transformative project in the tri-state area. Of course, we’ve heard it all before about this 77-acre site surrounding Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, where attempts to develop residential, commercial and industrial-use space around the arena have failed repeatedly for various reasons over the years.

But there is new cause for hope that things will truly move forward this time as Governor Andrew Cuomo recently added $40 million in state funds, earmarked for three pedestrian bridges and to help Northwell Health build a medical research center (the “innovation center”), that will include laboratory and educational space. That money is in addition to the $85 million already coming from the state for parking garages.

As the developers attempt to move things forward and local politicians promote the possibilities of Nassau Hub, the Coliseum has been hosting concerts and the NHL’s Islanders have returned to play a portion of this season and next season’s games as they wait for a new arena to be completed at Belmont Park. (The team had left the outdated venue for Brooklyn.) With the Islanders doing well this year and big names like Billy Joel and Elton John booking shows, more people have been brought back to the area.

Developers continue to face resistance from nearby residents, however, who recently voiced concerns about the $1.5 billion plan to build office, retail, restaurant, and entertainment space, along with the medical and biotech research center and 500 units of housing. They were given permission to draft a site plan but must enter a project labor agreement with local building trade councils, as well as providing quarterly updates to the legislature and holding regular public meetings.

Should things work out this time and move forward, Phase I of the project, which includes the construction of the two state-funded parking garages with 3,400 spaces, the Northwell Health Innovation Center and half of the housing and entertainment units, is contingent on county legislative approval. Pending that approval, it is expected to begin within 24 months with anticipated completion by 2022.